Allegheny County Public Works officials say the cast-iron grates are being stolen mostly along rural roads because they're heavy and it takes time to remove them. Workers have been welding some grates in place to make them harder to steal, but that's also making it harder for crews to remove them for cleaning.
The Philadelphia Water Department has reported about 2,500 of its grates stolen in recent months. Similar thefts have plagued Syracuse, N.Y., Fall River, Mass. and the Canadian capital of Ottawa.