Fed up with the unstoppable force that is manhole cover thieves, authorities in Querétaro have sought to make the circular metal plates immovable objects.
The Querétaro State Water Commission (CEA) has begun setting Querétaro city’s manhole covers in concrete to prevent thieves from removing them and selling them as scrap metal. The covers are commonly made of copper and iron.
In addition, missing manhole covers are currently being replaced with concrete ones, the CEA announced on Twitter. “The new ones are concrete to avoid them being stolen again,” it said.
Querétaro city Mayor Luis Nava said that his government is also planning a crackdown on businesses that buy stolen manhole covers.
“We’re going to coordinate with the Attorney General’s Office so that businesses that buy these types of material are penalized very severely,” he said, adding that sanctions could included enforced closures.
Removal of the covers endangers pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, warned a spokesman for the Querétaro Citizens Transport Observatory. One cyclist died after riding into a cover-less manhole in the borough of Santa Rosa Jáuregui.
In the capital, 50-kilogram manhole covers sell for about 250 pesos (US $11.50) each, according to a report by Forbes México, but their theft over the past three years has forced the government to spend millions of pesos to replace them. Drain grates and other metal components of water and sewerage infrastructure are also frequently stolen.
Missing covers have also caused accidents in Veracruz city, including one recent one that claimed the life of a 13-year-old boy. The youth fell into an uncovered Federal Electricity Commission manhole and was electrocuted.