Diboll Police searching for manhole cover thieves

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - Diboll Police are working to track down nine manhole covers stolen in the city. Police think someone is stealing them for some quick cash at a scrap yard.

Detectives say they do have some evidence in this crime, but they want to recover the lids before they're sold to a scrap yard.

It's about a 15-foot drop to the bottom of the manholes.

Thieves have exposed nine of the dangerous drops in Diboll.

The covers were stolen around Booker Street and Hwy 59 South, near Diboll's waste water treatment facility.

"It's frustrating because they're there for a couple reasons, to keep a lid on top of the manhole and it's a safety thing too," Diboll Water Superintendent Ronnie Lyles explained.

Some of the covers were unbolted from their rings, others were removed from the ground by breaking the surrounding concrete. City workers spend Wednesday trying to fix them.

"Been employed with the city of Diboll for almost four years now and I've actually never ran across this happening ever before," said Lyles.

Detectives want scrap yards to be on the lookout for the lids. They're stamped "Sigma," "HM144N," India," "Sanitary," and "Sewer."

"There's probably more than one person, I'm just guessing because to get a ring and a cover it's about 200 pounds between the two of them," Lyles said.

Since the city has cracked down on metal theft, it appears some are resorting to stealing the hefty manhole covers.

"They've got several hundred pounds on their hand, they can make a hundred dollars a piece, give or take a little more for maybe a couple hours worth of work," Diboll Police Department Det. Norman Williams said.

Replacements have been ordered and workers are installing them, but the city is already out more than a thousand dollars, not to mention the manpower to re-install the covers and track down the culprits.

"If a child or teenager or whatever was walking through the woods and they step off in that hole, they could be gone for a couple days or they could even die falling through the hole," Lyles said.

Detectives say if convicted, those responsible face felony charges and possibly time in state jail for the crime.

The stolen lids have not caused any water problems, it's mainly a safety issue at this point.

If you have any information at all about this crime, contact the Diboll Police Department or Crime Stoppers at 639-TIPS.

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