Stolen city metal costs taxpayers - - Jackson, MS

Stolen city metal costs taxpayers

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Scrap metal thieves are at it again, this time removing city drain covers.

It can be lucrative for them but costly for taxpayers.

Jackson Police have captured two such scrap metal bandits trying to make money at the city's expense.

Jackson Police Dept. Detective Jay Coleman usually arrests metal thieves in pairs because removing and lifting the heavy steel is at least a two man job.

"Nothing surprises me what they will take," said Coleman who is assigned to the Jackson Police Department's Property Crimes Division.

This collection of steel grates, storm drain, manhole and sewer covers at the Jackson Impound is stolen city property that will be re-installed saving the city thousands of dollars.

There are dozens of huge, round and rectangular pieces of steel sitting in a holding area.

One lip from a manhole cover could easily weigh a few hundred pounds.

Tuesday, an off duty Jackson Police Officer stopped two men, Alvin Brown Jr., 18, and Jonathan Mallard, 20, of attempting to sell city inlet drain covers to the Can Man on Valley Street.

"He was able to tell them to pull over but they pretty much panicked and fled the scene, but he was able to give a brief description of the vehicle along with the tag information," Jackson Police Officer Colendula Green said.

Brown and Mallard, both of Jackson, were arrested and charged with receiving and possession of stolen goods.

They told investigators they found the metal in an abandoned yard in the Queens neighborhood.

"This is actually a felony," Officer Green said. "These are cast iron steel covers and these thieves are looking at it as free money, pretty much gold to them."

According to police, seven drain covers with the Jackson City seal in a pile at the impound were recovered from Brown and Mallard, but they said several round sewer covers were returned from a recycling center in Slidell, Louisiana last month.

Investigators said thieves can get $500.00 for one of the cast iron covers.

It costs the city hundreds to replace the stolen metal depending on the size and weight.

City officials say the theft is not only costly for taxpayers but a hazard.

"It could potentially be a danger to pedestrians, to cyclists and even drivers who fall into these uncovered inlets," Jackson Director of Communications Chris Mims said. "So it could be quite expensive for the City of Jackson."

Jackson Police said the problem is nationwide and has recently cost Philadelphia, Pennsylvania $140,000.00 to replace stolen metal.

City officials urge anyone to call 911 if they see someone stealing Jackson metals or property and report any missing grates, drain or sewer covers to the city's new 311 phone system.  

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