Iron Manhole Cover Theft for Scrap Metal

Thieves steal useful metal - from copper wire to iron manhole covers - and bring them to metal recyclers for a small cash payout.  While cities try to crack down on recyclers, thieves find ways around these measures. (Video: man attempts to steal a manhole cover and comically falls into the resulting hole)

CAP Composites are Thermosets

Metal and Plastic - Phase Change

Thermoset Composites - Molecular Change

Thermoset Composites - Molecular Change

Phase Change of ice cubes compare to forming metal or plastic

Metals and Plastics are formed by heating them to a melt, placing them into a mold (usually by injection), and then cooling them to a solid again.  This is similar to melting ice cubes to water, placing the water in a different tray, and freezing it again.  These materials can be melted again as well.

Thermoset Composites - Molecular Change

Thermoset Composites - Molecular Change

Thermoset Composites - Molecular Change

Thermoset irreversible curing reaction compared to boiling an egg

Formed through an irreversible curing reaction, compression molded thermoset resins are heated under extremely high pressure in a mold, while the material fills the mold.  After the molecular reaction, a completed part is finished and cannot be returned to its former liquid state - much like boiling an egg.

Iron Manhole Cover Theft for Scrap Metal

CAP Presents No Scrap Value to Major Texas City

CAP Presents No Scrap Value to Major Texas City

CAP Presents No Scrap Value to Major Texas City

CAP showing no scrap value of composite manhole covers

While solving corrosion and relieving hazardous lifting are the most prominent reasons for cities to start using composite covers, one large Texas city cited theft of iron covers as their main driver.


CAP Presents No Scrap Value to Major Texas City

CAP Presents No Scrap Value to Major Texas City

"There seems to be a trend or a spate of incidents that seems to be happening at an alarming rate now,” 

- Michael Clendenin, a spokesman for Con Ed.

The New York Times

Theft Cost Added To Initial Cover Price Tag?

Do you amortize replacement covers, installation, tack welding, special locks, and insurance costs on top of the price tag for your iron covers and frames?  Some estimate this amounts to several hundred dollars.  Composites represent the most cost effective infrastructure solution for limited municipal budgets.

"Manhole Thefts Cost Taxpayers Thousands"

CAP Presents No Scrap Value to Major Texas City

"Manhole Thefts Cost Taxpayers Thousands"

Iron Manhole Theft in Houston, TX costs taxpayers

Jace Larson of Channel 2 News in Houston reports that Manhole Cover theft "cost taxpayers $126,000" in 11 months 

Video: Caught in the Act -Thieves Stealing Manhole Cover

San Antonio Channel 12 News reported theft trend costing the city thousands and documented an actual theft, in-process, with video footage. 

Iron Cover Theft a National Problem

Iron Manhole Cover theft national problem

Summary of Newsweek's Comprehensive Report

  • In the last year a staggering 600 manhole covers have been swiped by thieves in Philadelphia.
  • Chicago lost 200 in one month, with 40 reportedly taken in a single day.
  • Seventy-five have been taken recently in Greensboro, N.C.
  • More than 50 have been stolen in Long Beach, Calif., since January.
  • And in Cherokee County, Ga., more than 30 have been taken in just the last two weeks

Video: Three Thieves Caught Stealing Manhole Covers

Terrific story from Cleveland describes a rare success for officials who caught criminals and arrested them for this theft.

Video: 167 Manhole Covers Stolen from Rural FL Town

13,000 lbs of iron taken from remote location in Poinciano, FL.  Authorities will have city logos stamped on future covers, but is that enough?

Video: Detroit Thieves Steal Manhole Covers

Holes left from iron cover theft endangering children around school and park.

Iron Manhole Cover Theft a Global Issue

Iron Manhole Cover theft global problem - Juarez, MX loses 30 million pesos to manhole cover theft

Hundreds of Thousands of Manhole Covers Stolen!

  •  According to China's Xinhuan News Agency, about "240,000 manhole and street-drain covers were stolen in Beijing in 2004." 

  •  In the city of Koltata, India, more than 10,000 manhole covers were taken in two months.

  • The photo shows a Ciudad Juarez news report showing nearly 30,000 covers stolen in 2012.

Video (Spanish): $30,000,000 Pesos Lost to Cover Theft


Mexico City spends $30,000,000 pesos in 3 years for replacements due city's manhole cover theft ($2,000,000 USD).  This does not account for installation, administration, traffic, injuiries, and other associated costs.

If thieves cannot sell the covers, they will not steal the covers....Si los ladrones no pueden vender, no van a robar!

Video (Spanish): Motorcycle Hits Open Manhole During Report

Watch Video Report about Stolen Iron Manhole Covers in Bogota, Colombia

Vea este Video Reportaje sobre Colombia y tapas robadas.

Many, Many More Videos To See about Manhole Cover Theft

If you are interested in seeing more stories about manhole cover theft for scrap metal, CAP gives you the link to over 100 videos from local newscasts in the USA and around the world.