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Youngstown police investigate theft of grates downtown

Published: Wed, June 30, 2010 @ 12:07 a.m.

By Doug Livingston



Since June 19, 30 sewer-grate covers similar to this one have been stolen in the downtown area. City workers are replacing them, but police are looking for the person or people who have been stealing them and attempting to sell them to scrap yards.


Left, Youngstown workers placed a barrier over a sewer opening as a safety precaution near Marshall Street in downtown Youngstown. Since June 19, 30 sewer-grate covers have been stolen in the downtown area. City workers are replacing them, but police are looking for the person or people who have been stealing them and attempting to sell them to scrap yards.


Police are investigating the theft of 30 steel grates covering sewage catch basins that have been stolen from city streets between June 19 and 23.

Lewis Zoella, city sanitary department chief, notified police of the thefts. On the morning of June 19, seven of the grates were replaced at Tod Avenue and Irving Place in downtown Youngstown.

“Two days later, they were missing,” Zoella said.

Monday morning, six more grates were stolen from Oak Hill Avenue and Pepsi Place.

“They’re gonna keep taking them to someone who will pay for them,” Zoella said of the culprit or culprits.

Police have a suspect in mind, but no arrest has been made.

The missing grates are causing a safety issue for drivers and pedestrians.

“We could have a big accident,” Zoella said. “A car could flip over. Someone could fall in there.”

The 30 grate covers, weighing nearly 60 pounds each, are valued at a total of $2,000. Zoella said area scrap yards know not to take the grates, but, he added, “It’s all about the dollar.”

Scrap yards are prohibited from receiving stolen goods.

The value of the steel is estimated at around $200 per ton, according to scrap-yard owners. The total weight of the 30 covers is less than a ton, but the price the city pays to replace them is 10 times their worth in scrap, city officials added.

Recycling centers in the immediate area all state a firm policy on refusing any customer trying to bring in the grates.

One scrap-yard operation indicated that it refused many of these grates last week.

Officials have considered bolting the grates down. Zoella said, however, this would prevent accessibility in the winter when water overflows and freezes.

The city is using tar to adhere the grates to the catch basins to make removal difficult.

The city is stocking up on the grate covers, with Zoella saying 75 more have been ordered.

The city’s wastewater-department workers will continue to replace them, he said.

XThe NewsOutlet is a joint media venture by student and professional journalists and is a collaboration of Youngstown State University, WYSU radio and The Vindicator.


1margarita(19 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Okay, here is a solution....When I lived in Asia in the 70's they were having the same problem with metal sewer covers. Well, their solution to the problem was to make them out of concrete! Nobody wants to steal those!

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2imthatgirl(5 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

This saddens me but does not suprise me. When will people work for a living & not take what does not belong to them.

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3glbtactivist(320 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Check the scrap yard on Poland Ave. They take anything.

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4YTownBred(30 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

That's some straight crack-head S#1t!!! And the junkyards in this area will still take it...illegal or not.

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5smarterthanthat(10 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Hey activist, you might want to look up the word "libel" before posting any more comments on these boards.

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6howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Jail time for scrap yards that accept these items! both employees and management and owners!

Make scrap yards follow the same procedures as pawn shops to take in items. Since the police already have procedures in place to check up on and track items in pawn shops, this will be easy for them to understand and implement.

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7Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

These idiots will stoop to any level. How desperate you have to be to steal grates. Get off the drugs and get a life!

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81970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

The concrete grate idea sounds good.

Some of the scrap yards deal in huge loads of scrap and many would not know if there was a grate or two, three etc in the load. It isn't that the scrapyard is looking the other way, they just don't know.

Sure, some might know, but the bigger ones dealing in high volume would not know. Not practical for them to inspect every piece of metal that comes in.

When dealing with specialty metals, such as copper, aluminum, brass, etc. all the scrap yards inspect everything, so no excuse for those metals.

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9georgejeanie(1485 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Why not weld them in place, too much work for the street dept or waste water people? Or you could buy grates with holes already drilled, then someone could, just maybe, drill another hole in the catch basin, but that to might require a drill that is probably not available, becasue it was misplaced or stolen. What a bunch of screwballs running this city.

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10Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

The Ghetto Mining Society has shifted to other metals because recycling copper has proven deadly in a couple of cases .

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11seminole(476 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Excellent Stan...classic. The thieves may have to start using straight steel for their "grills" instead of gold...

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12TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

I wonder if there are any businesses along these routes with security cameras

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13YTownBred(30 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Lol, classic line "Ghetto Mining Society", hillarious!

My mother's next door neighbor just turned into a dope-fiend earlier this year and he had a very nice house...not anymore. He got foreclosed, and went downhill from there. Stripped his house to the bone! And then tried to come around and sneak into his former boarded up home.

I was home for a weekend visiting` and almost shot him and one of his crack-head co-horts for being near my mother's home! Needless to say, he has not been back since.

If they have no respect for their own homes, they won't have respect for any one else's nor anything that belongs to the city.

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