MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Manhole covers are disappearing once again.
Engineers at the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System said seven covers were stolen on Chin Street.
It's a problem that is getting out of hand and customers said the suspects strike anytime, anywhere.
"You never know. They bust at night. They come in the day. They will do it in the daytime," said resident Kathleen Turner.
In March 2011, the Mobile Public Works Department had the exact same problem, so to prevent future thefts, they starting replacing their metal covers with concrete ones.
Engineers said the concrete replacements are not as durable, but it gets the job done for now. Managers at MAWSS are trying to figure out what they should do next.
Leaders said if the crimes don't stop, they will have to pass the cost of replacing the covers on to the consumer. That is not an option right now because priority number one is catching the person responsible.
Spokeswoman Barbara Shaw said the crimes have presented environmental safety hazards.
"An open manhole is a very dangerous thing. If someone tried to get in or if a child tried to get in, it could be very very dangerous and lead to some serious injuries," said Shaw.
The stolen covers have been replaced, but leaders are hoping a suspect is caught soon.
There is now a $5,000 reward being offered for information leading to an arrest. Call the Mobile County Sheriff's Office at 251-574-8633 or MAWSS at 251-694-3100.
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