Stolen drainage grates costing state thousands - CBS46 News

Stolen drainage grates costing state thousands

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Thousands of your tax dollars are being used to replace storm drains being swiped by thieves.

The Georgia Department of Transportation said more than 600 storm drains have been stolen since November.

GDOT spokesman Mark McKinnon said it's a major safety concern. "Those open drains can be very dangerous, not only to a vehicle that pulls off to the side, but if someone gets out of a vehicle, they could fall in it and get seriously injured," said McKinnon.

Residents we spoke with were shocked to hear what the thieves were going after.

"It looks like it's more trouble than it's worth, tell you the truth for the amount of money they get out of it," said Marion Shirley.

"Right now this world is desperate, it's crazy, and people are in need. That's the only thing I can think of to have all this craziness all of a sudden here," said Deborah Mosley.

Crazy or not, it's happening, despite the state's best effort to prevent it.

"We actually spot weld some of them in, we use chains to hold them in, but they've been able to disable that stuff and get them out anyway," said McKinnon.

GDOT said the thieves are leaving behind nothing but a major safety issue.

"When one of these grates is pulled up, you're talking about a hole on the side of the interstate four or five feet across," said McKinnon.

And replacing them beyond a temporary fix isn't cheap.

"They cost us over $100 apiece and up to $400 to $500 depending on the size of them," said McKinnon.

That's about $300,000 of your tax dollars poured right down the drain, if it was actually there.

And believe it or not, the cost is just one of many issues.

"It's a real problem because that has to go to the top of the list, and things like litter pick-up get pushed down the list because it's not as critical as a safety issue like that," said McKinnon.

As bad as it is now, GDOT said a couple years ago more than a thousand were stolen. They didn't catch anybody then, and they don't have much to go on now.

They don't know who or even how they're doing it because the drains aren't exactly light.

If you see anything suspicious, you're asked to call police or 411.

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