The Latest Metal Item To Steal For Scrap: Iron Grates Around Trees

CHICAGO (CBS) – The decorative iron grates at the base of trees in the city are heavy — up to 175 pounds – and they’re in plain view. But that’s not stopping thieves.

They’re lifting them to haul away and selling them for scrap, CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports.

The price tag for a very recent string of thefts was estimated at $40,000, and taxpayers are on the hook.

At first glance, you may not see it, but there is something missing a stretch of Lincoln Avenue in Lakeview. The decorative iron grates the city installed around 20 trees are missing.

Surveillance video from a local business shows men in a Chevy pickup truck swooping in and removing the fixtures.

It’s in Ald. Scott Waguespack’s 32nd Ward, and he’s not happy about it. One of his volunteers, Steve Jensen, is frustrated that thieves would steal something that costs $2,000 each to get a relatively small amount. They speculate the thieves only netted about $1,200 for the string of grate thefts in Lakeview.

“It just shows that these people have no qualms about stealing from citizens,” Waguespak says.

Also, each theft leaves a gaping hole that could be dangerous to pedestrians.

The folks at Dinkel’s Bakery filled up the space the grates used to cover with gravel after the owner witnessed a man sprain his ankle.

Luke Karl, the general manager, hopes the bakery’s surveillance video helps catch the guys who caused the problem.

“Stuff in the public way is not for scrap, it’s not not for the taking,” Jensen says.

Metal thieves hoping to cash in on scrapping the material have stolen everything from brass fixtures from fire hydrants to the kick plates off apartment building doors.

  • Jim hamilton

    Don’t worry Ald. Scott I’m sure if you look around you’ll find some cesspool dweller willing to sell you some more just like those even for less than 2g’s

  • joe

    Or it could be a WHITE trash junkie trying to get crack money BILL!

  • joe

    racist much?

    • Border Agent 69

      Every broken down pickup with invalid plates driving up and down the alley’s are of ILLEGAL Mexicans they steal gates,cutter’s. I even caught one in my garage as I worked under my truck and when I asked him what he wanted he said I LOOK FOR WHAT YOU NO NEED and I then said how in the hell do you know what I need the I grabbed him by his hair and dragged him out my garage.

      He is lucky I didn’t beat him.

      • Greg Belotti

        @Border Agent69…why do you hide behind that name?…the next time you want to say degrading comments like that…out your real name…be MAN…but then again all you ignorant red neck hicks are all the same anyway!…

      • Barney Lewis

        Hey Greg carefull what you wish for

        seen V lately?

  • Jean SC

    Thieves wouldn’t be able to get away with this if the recyclers buying these stolen items got some ethics and started questioning why some John Q. Public is bringing in such items. Something has to be done at the money-exchange point. People trying to sell these things for recycling should be required to prove they’re authorized to be in possession of them.

    • Jim Hamilton

      Jean SC

      Most likely by the time these items are sold they are already cut up into unrecognizable short iron or they are at the bottom of a larger heap of metal, the truck weighs in full empties then weighs again most of the time the buyer never sees it all

  • Alabaster White

    175 lbs???? would have to be pretty strong, strong as a gorilla, a gorilla is an ape, an ape is a monkey, a monkey is a ____________!

  • Doug

    This isn’t a new story. It’s been going on in our neighborhood since we moved here six years ago. We live near Dearborn and Huron and they’re missing for many blocks in every direction and not being replaced. The grates were not only decorative, they kept people from tripping or falling. Fortunately, many of the stolen decorative building fire hose connection covers have been replaced by inexpensive plastic, for which the which the druggies have no use. They look bad but it keeps people from stuffing garbage into them which is a safety threat in the event of a fire.

  • Jim Hamilton

    Really you mean to tell me they can’t enhance the video and zoom in on that license plate on the truck?

  • LOTD

    I think the real outrage here should be the city paying 2K for these things!!!! COME ON !!!! This city sure knows how to pi ss away tax payer money!!!

  • payingtaxpayer

    Why is that when something gets stolen off the city the taxpayer is on the hook for it? Every time the government FCKS up the taxpayer pays for it. This is bllsht all day everyday. If you know they are stealing them why don’t you fcking city people get your azzes in check and go pull them away? City strapped for cash? Go sell it yourself for some money and give the fcking taxpayer a break already! Rahmm, Daley doesn’t matter they are all cronies and all think the same.

  • pablo

    2000 dollars sounds way too expensive for what they do. But if they must have them then why wouldn’t they tac weld them together. It would be the cheapest way to secure them.

  • zarathrusta

    Did we really need iron grates covering tree pits?

  • Tom

    I retired as a police lieutenant after 30 years. These grates getting swiped and recyclced is childs play. I’ve scene interstate guard`rail’s taken and recycled; entire phones booths taken and recycled (the kind of booth with the door on it that we used to stand in while making a call), sections of bridge taken and recycled and my all time favorite, pieces of rail road track taken and recycled.

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