Metal thieves in Cincinnati rip manhole covers, grates from ground

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Cincinnati city officials says thieves are ripping manhole covers and storm water grates out of the ground to sell for scrap metal.

Greater Cincinnati Waterworks and Metropolitan Sewer District officials say scrap metal is valuable right now, and that scrappers are using industrial vehicles like backhoes to rip the metal out of the ground. Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District spokeswoman Deb Leonard says officials believe the scrappers are hiding in plain sight — posing as construction crews while they take the metal from the ground.

City engineer Eric Saylor says grates are being stolen with "surprising frequency" given that they are both very heavy and only worth a few dollars.

The thefts are being investigated, but city agencies and contractors are being warned to safeguard job sites.