YONKERS, N.Y. – Three weeks ago, Marline Slater walked outside of her St. Andrews Place home to find a gaping hole in the sidewalk where a manhole cover had been the night before.
Concerned that a neighbor or a pet could fall into the deep pit, Slater placed a lawn chair over the top and stood near the Cliff Street intersection, warning passers-by.
“It wouldn’t have been a problem for cars, but it would be a problem for pedestrians,” she said. “It could have been very dangerous.”
What Slater saw was another example of a crime that has become quite popular in nearby cities over recent months.
The theft of the 300- to 400-pound iron castings sharply increased in New York City this year, as 30 were stolen around Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
The problem is even worse on Long Island, where officials have reported as many as 70 covers stolen in various towns over the past year, according to CBS. And the cost can be as much as $400 to replace each one, according to reports.
Mayor Mike Spano said last week that Yonkers hasn’t seen a rash of manhole cover thefts, but he added that the city hasn’t been completely spared.
“It’s happening in New York City much more frequently than it’s happening here, but it’s something that may be on the rise,” Spano said at a town hall meeting hosted by Westchester County Legislator Virginia Perez (D-Yonkers).
Typically, thieves will pry the discs up with special tools, load them onto trucks and take off. Police have said the covers are often sold as scrap metal on the black market.
There, they can go for as much as 12 cents per pound, meaning crooks can cash in up to $48 per disc.
In Yonkers, at least three missing manhole covers have been reported in recent months – two on Riverdale Avenue and one on St. Andrews Place. All were quickly replaced, the mayor’s office said.
Spano said this type of crime is more common in a tough economy.
“The price of metal is on the rise, and if anybody can find a piece of metal, they will steal it,” he said.