To date, only two sewer grates...
HOLLY, Michigan – It’s been all over the news – scrap metal thieves have been busy stealing manhole covers and sewer grates for money in several neighboring communities like Flint and Burton.
On Tuesday evening, Village Manager Jerry Walker told council members that the epidemic has spread southward to Holly – specifically to the unfinished section of the Riverside Pulte subdivision where empty lots, dirt roads and few people make sewer grates and manhole covers easy pickings for would-be thieves.
For the village of Holly, it not only stands to be costly for taxpayers with a replacement cost of $300 to $500 per lid, but the disappearing covers and grates also create a hazard for pedestrians, bicyclists, animals and vehicles.
While the Pulte Riverside development resides in Holly Township, the village of Holly Police Department typically does not patrol the area. The rash of thefts, however, prompted Holly Police Chief Elena Danishevskaya to begin working with the Michigan State Police on the matter.
“Chief Danishevskaya is currently working with the Michigan State Police where the village of Holly Police Department will be doing some random patrols to protect the interest of the village,” Walker said.
Cabling boxes throughout the d...
Village council member Jackie Campbell said her home is one of many that backs up to the undeveloped section of the Riverside subdivision, and said stolen manhole covers and sewer grates are just part of the problem.
“It’s more than just the manhole covers and the sewer grates – they’re poaching – they’re killing deer and rabbits,” she said. “We’re hearing guns go off constantly out there.”
Campbell asked for residents to help. “I’m asking that people – everybody, please be the eyes and ears for our police and our administration,” she said noting that people have also been tampering with fire hydrants and pulling cable and wire from receptacles that are normally sealed on vacant property.
Councilman Tom Clark asked if tack welding could be used to secure manhole covers and sewer grates as a way to deter thieves.
“That’s the game plan once we get them replaced,” Brian Klaassen, director for Holly’s Department of Public Works answered. Klaassen said only two sewer grates have been stolen so far, and said that no manhole covers or sewer grates had been stolen from the village of Holly to his knowledge.
“I would very loudly complain against our police department and our taxpayers – paying our tax dollars to have our police cars go out in the township,” Clark said. “(Holly Township residents) have told us repeatedly that they don’t want us because they’re not going to pay for it,” he added. “They have the State Police which is free so I say, let the free State Police go out there and save you.”
Campbell reiterated her concerns to Clark, noting that the problem with poaching in particular has been going on for at least three years – the worst of which is happening now.
“I thank God for Chief Danishevskaya going forward with this,” Campbell said. “We need it, Tom – we had gun shells come up not even 20 feet away from our property.”
“That’s not my problem – I’m a taxpayer,” Clark replied.
Village President Jeff Miller said he understood that Michigan State Police resources are stretched thin, and that often times, stolen manhole covers and sewer grates become a lower priority to the agency in comparison to other more serious crimes to which they must respond.
“I agree with you that it is not our job to police that area, but yet at the same time, somebody then across the street needs to come up with a good solution,” Miller said.
Holly Township resident Janet Leslie disagreed with Clark, noting that Michigan State Police services are not “free.”
“We all pay for the State Police and there are a number of people who are not satisfied with the level of protection they provide,” Leslie said. “The State Police problem is a state budget problem,” she said adding that it was the village that requested that Holly police patrol the area, not Holly Township residents.
Clark would ultimately have the last word on the matter. “Well, once they get welded down, they won’t have to.”
Holly Police Officer Craig Simpson said stealing a manhole cover or sewer grate is considered to be a misdemeanor for larceny over $100 but less than $1,000, punishable by a fine of up to $500, and/or not more than 90 days in jail.