IPD investigating grate, lid, meter thefts

Published 11:06 am Friday, February 10, 2017

River Cities Wireless store also robbed

The calls started flooding in to city hall on Wednesday afternoon about thefts. Not car break-ins or burglaries, rather but thief or thieves targeting city property.
Specifically, sewer grates, backflow preventer lids, manhole covers and water meters.

“I got my first call around noon,” said Ironton Sewer Superintendent Dennis Gumbert.

He suspects since the grating and covers are metal, they were taken for their scrap metal value, but his concern is that someone gets hurt.

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“My fear is that a kid will go out in the morning in low light conditions or an elderly person and they step in these holes that are normally covered,” Gumbert said.

Since the grates are heavy, he suspects that someone with a truck used a winch or a chain to pull it out of its mooring.

Ironton Police Detective Joe Ross said his department got a report from the city water department around Wednesday morning that water meters and grates had been stolen overnight. He said more were stolen on Wednesday night.

“We are in the process of investigating, trying to figure out who and why they’d take these water meters and lids because scrap yards aren’t supposed to take these things,” Ross said.

The thefts were in the 2600 and 2700 block of 10th, 11th and 12th streets. There were also some stolen from the downtown area around Third Street.

“I don’t know that they are related,” Gumbert said. “But its not common, so my first impression is that they are related.”

The city has been replacing the metal gratings with cast concrete ones. Some of the concrete ones were pulled up but once it was realized that there was no metal “they are just throwing them in the yard. At least they could be thoughtful thieves and lay them back in the hole,” Gumbert said.

He was compiling a list of the stolen items for the police. There was no cost estimate of the value of the stolen items yet.

Ross said they presume that it was somebody with a truck that is stealing the metal items.

“So if anyone has any information on this, I’d be more than happy to hear from them at 740-532-5606,” Ross said. Calls can be made anonymously. “But any information would be great. If you see a suspicious vehicle or truck at night, please call the sheriff’s office for us. It’s going to take the public’s help to solve this.”

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office number is 740-354-3525.

The police are also investigating a break-in on Wednesday at River Cities Wireless at Second and Vernon streets in which several iPhones were stolen.

Ross said he didn’t know if it was related to the metal thefts.

“It’s possible they could be related but we don’t know for sure,” he added.