Metal thieves create new danger for pedestrians
November 23 2012
"Missing covers pose a significant public safety risk. Pets, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists could all be seriously harmed by an open catch basin." - Bruce Todd, Superintendent of Sewer Operations
Metal thieves have opened a gaping hole in the public safety of our streets.
Pedestrians face a new danger when they are walking on dark and rainy sidewalks. Thieves have stolen so many covers off storm drain basins that pedestrians now risk blindly stepping into a hole up to six feet deep that could result in a broken leg or worse.
Catch basins are located near curbs and in alleys to drain water from our roadways. They are covered with large metal grates.
Uncovered, most catch basins are a foot or two deep. Others can be as deep as five or six feet.
“Missing covers pose a significant public safety risk. Pets, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists could all be seriously harmed by an open catch basin,” says Bruce Todd, Superintendent of Sewer Operations with the City of Vancouver. “In the dark, people may not recognize that a catch basin is missing or the open hole may be covered with leaves and debris making it harder to distinguish the hole from solid ground.”
When city staff receive a report of a missing cover they secure the location, mark the danger and if necessary call a crew to replace the stolen cover.
A catch-basin cover is made of cast iron and weighs about 140 pounds. The cover costs the City $176 to purchase. A scrap metal specialist estimates the grate would possibly fetch $14 on the scrap metal market.
During June of this year, 92 catch basin covers were stolen in the City of Vancouver. Since September, 19 more grates have gone missing, 13 of those this month.
The losses occurred throughout the city, although there were a higher number of thefts south of 41st and on the west side. Most of the thefts have occurred in rear lanes and none of the grates have been recovered.
The losses to the City amount to just over $19,000.
Please report open catch basins to the City by calling 3-1-1 or 604-873-7000. Report any suspicious street activity to 9-1-1.