Manhole Cover Thieves Hit Streets of Philadelphia

Scrap metal prices result in 25-fold spike
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2008 8:47 AM CDT
Rising metal prices have led to an epidemic of manhole cover thefts.   ((c) Wrote)
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(Newser) – These days you have to watch your step in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love is suffering from an epidemic of manhole-cover theft, as rising scrap metal prices have led to a 2,500% increase in stolen covers and grates. Thieves are selling the covers for $5 to $10 at junkyards, reports the New York Times, and some streets now have so many orange cones marking off danger zones that they look like a slalom course.

The increase in theft started when prices began to soar for steel and iron, thanks to growing demand in India and China. Philadelphia has already spent $300,000 to replace the missing covers, but thieves have outwitted the city's security measures every time. "They used to say the streets around here will swallow you up, but they were talking about drugs and guns," said one Philly resident.