Thieves to get little 'payout' for stolen Brownsville manhole covers

Safety cones have replaced protective city covers for manholes and storm drains in Brownsville.

There have been 15 theft locations since mid-December, according to police report information released to Action 4 News.

The thefts have left the city in a hole with the pricey replacement costs ranging anywhere from $120.00 to $500.00 per cover.

Scrap metal shops are a hot spot for thieves looking to cash in on the stolen city property.

The office manager at Wilkinson Jim Iron and Metal in Brownsville has seen it firsthand.

"About maybe a month ago... somebody came in here with a shopping cart... and tried to sell the shopping cart and manhole covers." Said Mroueh said.

But the business had a plan in place.

Anyone who tries to scrape regulated metal like the ones used to make city property is asked for identification, according to Mroueh.

More extreme measures, like contacting law enforcement, have also been taken.

"Luckily we were able to see the material before it was scrapped and put it aside, then contacted the city," Mroueh said. "They came and followed up on the material."

A typical manhole cover weighs about 120 pounds.

Wilkinson's pays approximately 10 cents per pound on scrap metal. That amounts to around just 12 dollars per manhole cover.

Reporter: "People who are stealing... they are not only putting people's lives in jeopardy... it sounds they are getting what amounts to peanuts for that metal."

Mroueh: "Exactly."

Shop workers said the crime truly doesn't pay.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Brownsville Police at (956) 548-7000 or Crime Stoppers at (956) 546-TIPS (8477).

ADDRESSES OF REPORTED THEFTS: (date, address, number of thefts at location, item stolen)

12/13/2010 3595 W. Alton Gloor (Stripes) (1) Man Hole Cover12/13/2010 700 Lakeside Blvd. (5) Man Hole Covers12/14/2010 2410 Hudson blvd. (1) Man Hole Cover12/15/2010 818 E. 9th St. (1) Storm Drain12/16/2010 2255 U.S. HWY. 77 (Motel 6) (1) Man Hole cover12/17/2010 600 Lakeside blvd. (1) Storm Drain12/17/2010 800 W. 16th St. (1) Man Hole Cover12/18/2010 2434 Central Blvd. (Superior Car Wash) (4) Drainage Covers12/21/2010 800 W. 16th St. (2) Man Hole Covers12/21/2010 2200 E. Van Buren St. (1) Storm Drain12/22/2010 224 Ponciana (2) Man Hole Covers12/30/2010 3000 Laredo Rd. (1) Man Hole Cover12/30/2010 2500 Hudson blvd. (3) Man Hole Covers01/03/2011 300 Morningside Rd. (1) Man Hole Cover01/03/2011 100 S. Central Ave. (2) Man Hole Covers