ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Local law enforcement agencies are fighting a new type of enemy, thieves stealing manhole covers and grates, a crime spree police are linking to the poor economy.
"It's happening predominantly in the Southeast and far Northeast section of Rockford. They are trying to obtain money through theft. "
" 60 of the 100 pound covers have been lifted from Rockford streets since April, especially as metal prices remain hot."
"It's approximately $50 a ton, and takes about 15 grates to make a ton.So, it's not a significant amount of money."
But city leaders say it is a big safety concern. Several residents have already filed complaints with the city over their damaged vehicles.
"When you have one of these manholes lifted off,cars go through it, and it damages the wheel base."
It costs Rockford about $200 to replace a cover, a phenomenon that's becoming very expensive.
"There are hidden costs involved. Going forward,it's going to be an extreme cost to taxpayers."
Hanson says welding the covers is not a feasible option. The only way to lift the lid on the thieves, is by finding them.