Several storm drain covers have been stolen from the streets of Southwick.
“I didn’t think that much of it until I called the DPW and they indicated there had been an ongoing problem,” said Abby Albano, a resident who lives on one of the streets where storm drains were stolen.
According to Southwick police, the town’s Department of Public Works has reported that on two different occasions in the past two weeks, a total of nine storm drain grates have been stolen from the Berkshire Avenue and Birchwood Road areas.
A storm drain on Birchwood Road marked the ninth storm drain stolen from Southwick’s streets. So far, Birchwood and Berkshire Avenue have been the targets.
Southwick police officer Mike Bridges said the town has replaced all of the stolen drains at the cost of nearly $1800.
Bridges said they’ve been checking to see if anyone has been trying to sell them for scrap, but several scrap yards 22News contacted said they’d only buy storm drains from a contractor or a city.
But it’s not just the cost; it’s a safety concern. A storm drain on Birchwood Road is just below a stop sign, leaving a gaping hole for any car that turns the corner.
Kevin Constable, a Southwick resident, told 22News, “Not only that, pedestrians, bicycles. People are still riding motorcycles now on a warm day. Think about hitting that on a motorcycle, it would be terrible.”
Police say it’s unclear whether someone is trying to cause havoc, or if they are trying to cash the grates in as scrap metal. They believe the thefts happened in the overnight hours.
But they wouldn’t turn much of a profit. One scrapyard told 22News, the drains would go for 7 to 9 cents a pound. If a drain weighed one hundred pounds, that would be seven or nine bucks, and scrap yards tend to only buy them from cities or contractors- so they know they aren’t stolen.
“A rather strange problem to have but, nevertheless, it is a problem not to mention very dangerous,” Southwick police wrote on Facebook.
Residents and drivers are asked to keep their eyes open for open storm drains while walking and driving on the road at night.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity is asked to call Southwick police at 413-569-5348.