Stole storm grates creating health hazard

August 2, 2008 8:32:22 AM PDT
A 2,000 pound mystery has people in Wake Forest worried and police stumped.

Eleven storm grates have vanished from one neighborhood. Residents are afraid their children could get hurt as a result.

Each grate weighs close to 200 pounds.

It takes a lot of muscle to move the metal so officials were shocked when 11 iron grates were stolen at one time. All that remains are gaping holes and orange cones to alert residents.

"Oh, it's very dangerous," resident Renee Koliander said. "I have a 3 and a 2-year-old. My three year old on his scooter, with kids you know, they're never looking or paying attention."

Resident Jeff Palazzo said he noticed the missing grates during a jog. "I'm kind of just concentrating on my jog and to see a big hole there, the first time I saw it, it was kind of frightening."

Officials do not know where the grates went, but there's a big business behind the thefts. Some people have tried to take their stolen goods to a metal recycling plant.

"What's happened is the price of steel in the price industry has just about doubled in the last two months," Gregory Brown of Raleigh Metal Processors explained.

Brown said he's turned people away who try to sell their stolen metals.

"If someone had five of them, they could get 50, 60 bucks cash," Brown said. "But again, if you're a thief, don't bring it here."

Crews are working to make the area where the grates are missing safer for families.

"We could probably find some old scrap metal to put over the top of them," Ronald Moore, Town of Wake Forest, said. "Then we got to worry about somebody stealing them."

Residents say it's about more than stolen storm grates.

"It's not just that it's missing," Koliander said. "It's creating a health hazard, a security issue. It's affecting a lot of people in different ways."

Town officials estimate it will cost $3,000 to replace all 11 grates. They expect to have them replaced by next week.


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