Cast-Iron Theft A Worldwide Trend

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz
The recent rash of storm-drain grate thefts in the Natomas area first reported by THE NATOMAS BUZZ are part of a growing, worldwide trend. 

A quick search of online news sites yielded similar incidents of stolen cast iron grates from as nearby as Olympia, Washington and as far away as Russiaand New Zealand in the past month. 

In late June, The Gainesville Sun in Florida reportedthe arrest of two men accused of stealing several storm grates from a shopping center parking lot and selling them for 8 cents apiece. That thieves could earn only pennies on the pound for the stolen grates begs the question: why? 

“Maybe they don’t know what the grates are worth,” said Jessica Hess, spokesperson for the Utilities Department in Sacramento. She estimated cast iron yields about $4 per ton. 

Whether to sell as scrap or for some other use yet unknown, storm drain covers and cast-iron grates are popular targets for thieves around the world. 

In Germany, iron storm drains are stolen from streets while more than 150 drain covers were taken from streets in Luton, England. 

Stateside, WFSA Channel 12 reporteda string of storm drain and water meter cover thefts in Dothan, Alambama on July 1. The next day, The Olympian reportedtheft of cast-iron tree grates from sidewalks in downtown Olympia, Washington on the rise. The following day WDSU Channel 3 reportedmetal drainage grates stolen from roads in Hammond, Louisianna. 

The list goes on with thefts of cast-iron storm drain covers stolen from around the city in Portland, Oregon, from a foreclosed subdivision in Mount Holly, North Carolina and in Decatur, Alabama. Here’s a partial list of more reported thefts:

  • July 14 – grates stolen from a supermarket parking lot in Taunton, Alabama.
  • July 17 – seven storm drains stolen from European Village in Palm Coast, Florida.
  • July 20 – 100-pound grate from a storm sewer stolen from a church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • July 21 – several storm drains stolen in Washington, Pennsylvania.
While catching these metal thieves is rare, some have been arrested like the suspects in Florida and even convicted. Last week, two men were sentenced to nine months in prison for stealing storm-drain grates from streets in Columbus and Grove City, Ohio.

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