Dude, where’s my manhole cover?

iStockphoto.com A few weeks back, I blogged a Times of India story about how China’s construction boom was driving up iron prices, resulting in widespread theft of manhole covers in Mumbai. Now, the New York Times is reporting that the epidemic of manhole theft is spreading throughout the United States as well. In Philadelphia alone, ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
593791_080723_manhole5.jpg
593791_080723_manhole5.jpg

iStockphoto.com

A few weeks back, I blogged a Times of India story about how China's construction boom was driving up iron prices, resulting in widespread theft of manhole covers in Mumbai.

Now, the New York Times is reporting that the epidemic of manhole theft is spreading throughout the United States as well. In Philadelphia alone, 2,500 covers have been stolen in the last year, costing the city at least $300,000. Widespread manhole-cover theft has also been reported in Long Beach, Cleveland, Memphis, Miami, and Milwaukee. Some cities are now switching to plastic covers or welding down the metal ones.

iStockphoto.com

A few weeks back, I blogged a Times of India story about how China’s construction boom was driving up iron prices, resulting in widespread theft of manhole covers in Mumbai.

Now, the New York Times is reporting that the epidemic of manhole theft is spreading throughout the United States as well. In Philadelphia alone, 2,500 covers have been stolen in the last year, costing the city at least $300,000. Widespread manhole-cover theft has also been reported in Long Beach, Cleveland, Memphis, Miami, and Milwaukee. Some cities are now switching to plastic covers or welding down the metal ones.

Police are trying to crack down on junkyards, but as one North Philadelphia scrap metal collector reports, the demand curve is not in their favor:

These guys here,” Mr. Sergeant said, pointing at one scrap yard, “They’d buy a police cruiser and melt it down if we brought it in. The prices for metal are just that good these days.”

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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