Darby/Chestnut among places hit by thefts of storm grates

       Two storm sewer grates at Darby and Chestnut streets are among about a dozen that have been stolen from city streets in the last three weeks.
       The City Streets Division is coordinating with the Police Department to notify local recycling centers to be on the lookout, in case the thieves try to trade them in for cash.
       The missing grates should not be hard to miss. They weigh roughly 200 pounds each, according to Ken Winkler of City Streets, and are too large and heavy to be handled by one person. They are also noticeable when they're missing - as at the west side of Darby and Chestnut in the Holland Park neighborhood, where there's a rectangular hole of a few feet deep at both street corners.
       Each grate costs $300-$600 to replace. They range upwards in size from the smallest ones of 2 by 4 feet to others that are “much, much larger,” he said.
       Pre-made replacements can be ordered for some grates, while others, because of their unique configurations, have to be fabricated in-house. For public safety, barricades have been placed at locations that are still waiting for replacement grates - including the two at Darby and Chestnut.
       Winkler said he did not know why thieves have suddenly started going after steel grates. The main public target in recent years has been the copper wiring Colorado Springs Utilities uses in electrical services.
       “It's an awful lot of work for them to steal these things,” Winkler said of the grates. Catching the culprits will probably require citizen help, he added. “It will take neighborhood watches, with people observing. Most of this has got to be happening in the nighttime.”
       If citizens notice a missing grate that is not barricaded, they are asked to report it immediately to the Street Division at 385-5934. Any suspicious activity should be reported to the Police Department at 444-7000.

Westside Pioneer/press release