As the economy weakens, cities and counties are battling manhole-cover thefts, reports USA Today. Hundreds of 200-pound covers have disappeared in three months in California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Georgia as scrap metal prices rise. “It’s a sign of the times,” says Sgt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County, Ga., sheriff’s office, where 28 manhole covers disappeared in April and May. “When the economy gets bad, people start stealing iron.”
The price of heavy melt steel, the medium grade used for manhole covers, has increased from $329 per metric ton in January to $519, says the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. A thief can get $10 to $15 for a manhole cover. Long Beach, Ca., which has lost more than 80 covers this year, says that drivers who have damaged their cars because of missing manholes have filed claims with the city, amd tje city is worried that a child may fall into a hole.