Police in Belleville, Ont., have been looking into a series of thefts on the streets that could have been very dangerous to the public.
Someone has been stealing sewer grates and maintenance covers.
They are heavy to move, and there’s money to be made if they’re sold as scrap.
Haig Road, Farley Avenue and the Foster Ward Community Centre on St. Paul Street are just a few of the areas where maintenance covers and catch basin lids were removed and stolen.
“I believe they occurred over two nights earlier this week,” says Belleville CAO Rod Bovay.
“They were discovered by staff early in the morning.”
Bovay believes the thefts likely occurred between the night of Sept. 18 and Sept. 20, because that’s when reports of the missing municipal property started coming in.
The 10 maintenance covers and one catch basin lid were replaced, but not without some cost.
“We were in excess of $4,000 to replace those and get them back in a safe condition,” says Bovay.
Belleville police made an arrest Tuesday morning, thanks in part to a call from the owner of PJ Metals Limited in Foxboro, where a suspect tried to sell the grates as scrap metal.
“That individual was in attendance and was dropping off several sewer grates,” says Const. Brittney Blake of Belleville Police.
Police arrested 44-year-old Adam Karns of Belleville. He has now been charged with a number of offences.
“Two counts of possession of stolen property, one count of mischief under $5,000, one count of mischief endangering life and one count of theft under $5,000,” says Blake.
Belleville police say they have also connected Karns to the theft of a sewer grate from the parking lot of an east end business.
Removing the grates is no easy task — each weighs about 100 pounds.
Both Belleville police and Bovay say their bigger concern was the risk to public safety.
The holes left behind on city streets after the thefts posed a risk to both pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
“Significant injuries could result from anyone who may be walking and not notice it missing,” says Bovay.
“If it’s at night or something — and they can be up to 16 feet deep.”
Karns has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 20 to answer to the charges.