Manhole cover thefts are rising in New York City, says the New York Times. The utility Con Ed says more than 30 of its manhole covers — some weighing 300 pounds and all bearing the utility's distinctive markings — have disappeared since March. In a normal year, no more than two or three covers go missing. “There seems to be a trend or a spate of incidents that seems to be happening at an alarming rate now,” said Con Ed’s Michael Clendenin. He assumes the covers were being sold to scrap metal dealers but doesn’t know where or for how much. “I can't imagine people are decorating their living rooms with them.”
Besides the cost and hassle of replacing the missing covers, Con Ed officials are concerned about the hazards that gaping holes in city streets could pose to pedestrians and drivers. Based on current commodity prices for iron, a stolen manhole cover might fetch more than $30. It costs Con Ed about $200 to replace each one, not counting the labor involved. A team of 12 investigators is canvassing neighborhoods, talking to scrap dealers around the city and sharing information with the police. There appears to be a black market for the covers, which is troubling to a company that has more than 200,000 manholes in its network that distributes electricity, gas, and steam throughout the city and the northern suburbs.