Theft of sewer drain covers shameful, but also preventable

Published 9:12 pm Saturday, February 8, 2014

Theft is a crime, regardless of the item stolen, but in one case the theft is more egregious than a typical incident.

In recent weeks, more than 40 sewer drain covers have been stolen from Selma’s streets. The covers don’t serve any particular notable purpose, simply preventing pedestrians from stepping into a hole. They also prevent tree limbs and stray debris from falling directly into the hole.

Without the covers, it’s quite easy to fall into the hole, especially if it’s dark outside and you’re not focused on what’s ahead. One step off of the sidewalk could land you in a five-foot hole.

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It’s not clear who the thief or thieves are. The motive behind the thefts is also unclear. Though, several theories have emerged about when and why the thefts are occurring.

All city officials agree that the thefts are occurring late at night or in the early hours of the morning, when few people are outside. Some city council members proposed that the the thieves are taking the covers to recycling centers hundreds of miles away from Dallas County. Others think that the thieves are melting down or breaking up the sewer drain covers, mising the remaining parts into other recycling matter and bringing it to local recycling centers.

Reglardless of the details, the widespread nature of the thefts is costing the city thousands of dollars and hundreds of extra man hours.

Public Works employees are now having to weld four corner corners of each drain. Later, when maintenence is required, city employees are required to bring special tools to uncover the drains.

Thieves have their own motivations and scolding them certainly wont change their actions, but stealing dozens of pieces of city property results in more tax dollars spent to replace the storm drains.

Perhaps instead of replacing the drains, the Public Works Department could use the money to fix a few extra potholes or purhcase new tools.

Instead, the Public Works Department spent more than $1,000 to fix something that shouldn’t ever need to be replaced.

The best way to prevent. future thefts is to simply be vigilant of your surroundings. Staying up until 2 a.m. and stitting on your porch probably isn’t the best method to cath a thief, but noticing when something is out of the ordinary could certainly reveal a thief prying up the cover to a sewer drain.