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Sewer Grate Thefts in Jefferson Twp. Present Danger For Drivers

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- State police in Butler County say they are investigating the theft of dozens of steel sewer grates in Jefferson Township.

The grates have been disappearing in recent weeks with four more vanishing just on Wednesday.

Until the grates can be replaced by the township, the open holes that remain by the roadside present a real danger to drivers.

"We've lost how many, four in the daylight today, six last night, six on Monday night," said Lois Rankin, a Jefferson Township supervisor. "We just can't keep up with it."

In all, a total of 29 storm sewer grates have disappeared in the small community without a trace.

"Once we know about it, we've definitely got to respond," said William Foertesch, a road foreman. "We've got to mark it with a safety horse or put another grate in if we would have it on hand. The last few thefts have been really concentrated right here around the township. The majority of them are probably a circle within about half the township."

The thieves are more than a little brazen; some of the stolen grates weigh as much as 200 pounds apiece. And they've been stolen in broad daylight.

"We're speculating that it's for scrap. We don't know where these grates are going," Roger Davis, another Jefferson Township supervisor, said. "When they're starting to remove several in one evening or daytime, you may not think it's anything, but if you see something and it doesn't look right, call the police or make a note of it."

Police say they have contacted scrap yards in the area to be on the lookout.

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