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Metal thieves targeting storm grates


Scrap metal thieves are suspected of stealing 18 storm drains and storm grates from Gresham streets and culverts in the past two weeks.

Since March 10, thieves have stolen culvert storm drains and storm grates from ditches and gutters along Southwest Butler Road, Southeast Regner Road and Southeast 182nd Avenue in Southwest Gresham, as well as elsewhere in the city, said Laura Shepard, city spokeswoman.

Thieves also took a storm grate from a street in front of an elementary school, she added.

“This is really a safety concern for us,” Shepard said. “For pedestrians, bicyclists and even cars.” In addition, without the grates, culverts can become plugged with debris, causing roadway flooding.

The city estimates it will cost $7,400 to replace the grates. Police suspect thieves are selling them as scrap to metal recyclers for a fraction of what they’re worth. “It’s definitely frustrating for the city,” Shepard said. “Somebody taking public resources to make a few dollars."

It’s not the first time the city has been hit by metal thieves.

Two years ago, a metal thief stole more than 70 storm grates in Portland and Gresham. He made about $7 per grate, Shepard said, and was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $22,000 in restitution.

Anyone who notices a missing storm drain should report it to the city’s operations center at 503-618-2626. To report suspicious activity, call the Gresham police non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.