WAKE FOREST — Town officials are urging residents to watch their step as police investigate the theft of more than 60 storm drain grates from local neighborhoods.
The grates, pieces of metal that measure about 2 feet by 3 feet and weigh more than 100 pounds each, cover drains that can drop as much as 10 feet below street level.
Town crews have set up cones and police tape around the drains to alert walkers, joggers, bicyclists and drivers to the safety hazards.
Officials are particularly concerned about people walking or jogging at night along the curb.
“There all kinds of possibilities, and none of them are good,” town spokesman Bill Crabtree said.
Crabtree said the town wants to replace the missing grates as quickly as possible, but it could be January before the process is complete.
The grates were stolen from several Wake Forest subdivisions, including St. Andrews Plantation, Stonegate, Caveness Farms and Bowling Green.
Police are investigating with the assumption that the thieves intend to sell the grates for scrap metal, Crabtree said. The grates are worth about $15 to $20 each when scrapped, but it will cost the town hundreds of dollars to replace each one.
Other towns and cities throughout the Triangle, including Raleigh and Durham, have dealt with storm drain grate thefts.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said the grate thefts tend to come in waves. The most recent rash in Raleigh occurred in Wakefield, and police are investigating whether there is any connection to the Wake Forest thefts, he said.
Those who see someone other than a Wake Forest or Raleigh employee removing a grate are asked to call the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150.