Scrappy thieves make off with inlet, manhole covers in Philly

The rising prices that scrap metal command have made taking inlet and manhole covers a recurring problem in Philadelphia.

The covers are heavy–and they can be scrapped for cash if a thief finds an unscrupulous metal dealer who will buy them.

The Philadelphia Water Department has noticed a drop in thefts of the covers over the past two years, according to spokeswoman Laura Copeland..

“In fiscal year 2009, we replaced 2,825 inlet covers due to theft,” she said. “In fiscal year 2010, we replaced 1662, so the numbers are down but they are still a little high.”

Copeland says replacing the inlet covers, which are installed at the end of most city blocks, is not an easy task.

“For inlet covers, there are about five different sizes because there are different types of inlets, there is open-mouth, round or square,” she said. “There are different sizes and different weights and our crews don’t carry all the replacement parts on the truck with them. But we will send out a crew to make the area safe.”

To report a missing cover call 311 or the water department line at 215-685-6300, 24 hours a day.

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