South Carolina Asks for Public’s Help Solving Metal Thefts

AASHTO Journal, 28 October 2011

The South Carolina Department of Transportation is asking for the public’s help in tracking down whoever might be responsible for the theft of metal portions of state highways.SCDOT last week announced that more than 100 storm drain grates were stolen along Interstate 85 in Anderson County and US 276 in Greenville County.

“This is very possibly the most widespread case of infrastructure theft on our highways that has ever occurred in South Carolina,” said SCDOT State Maintenance Engineer David Cook in a statement.

Cook said that the thefts are very serious because they present potential hazards to the motoring public.

The stolen storm drain grates left behind holes that “would be devastating for a motorcyclist or motorist,” he said.

Cook noted that replacing the stolen metal will result in costs to taxpayers and additional traffic congestion when crews close lanes to make repairs.

SCDOT reported that in Anderson County, 68 two-piece grates were stolen on I-85 between mile marker 18 and mile marker 40 along the northbound and southbound lanes. The grates were in the median shoulder next to the barrier wall. The thefts are believed to have occurred over the Oct. 14-16 weekend.

Last week in Greenville County, approximately 35 storm drain grates were stolen from US 276. Recently, there have been an additional 22 storm drain grates stolen from other routes in Greenville County including on I-85.

The cast iron grates are heavy and likely required at least 2 people to lift, Cook said.

He said other recent infrastructure thefts have occurred around the state including dozens of manhole covers, pieces of guardrail, and storm drain grates.

Motorists are advised to report any suspicious activity along the roads to law enforcement or call 911.

Cook said it’s possible the stolen items may be taken to a recycling center. Anyone with information is asked to contact law enforcement.

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