Manhole cover thefts create safety issue

Dangerous holes being left in roads

HOUSTON - Thieves are making off with heavy metal sewer grates, leaving behind large and dangerous holes in the street.

One business owner in north Houston said he watches drivers avoid crashing into the gaping man holes each day.

"Swerving to miss it and actually hitting the median there quite a bit because they're swerving to miss the man hole covers," John Rocca said.

Someone keeps stealing the storm grates on the North Freeway feeder road near Gulf Bank.

The only thing protecting drivers from falling into a storm drain near that intersection is an orange cone.

"It seems like people are stealing the manhole covers for scrap value, and whenever they are removed they create a void in the street. Whenever a tire hits it, it puts the car out of control," business owner Troy Worthington said.

The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for replacing the storm grates. It is considering welding the grates so they can not be stolen.

Stolen sewer grates sell for $25 to $45 a piece. It costs about $100 in taxpayer money to replace each one.

According to the city of Houston, crooks have stolen nearly two dozen manhole covers this year, which is down from last year.

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