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Highway Robbery: Thieves target iron storm grates, again

1:33 AM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA, Ga. -- Interstate 75 between Moore's Mill and Howell Mill is the scene of a crime.

In fact, it's the scene of many.

For years, thieves have been targeting the iron storm drains that sit off the shoulder of the interstates. Back in 2010, more than 1,000 were ripped out and ripped off. But then the crimes stopped.

Now, the thieves are back, and the latest tally stands at more than 600 gone.

Ironically, the state passed a new law last year that was supposed to cut back on the metal theft.

"They came up with the idea that having the GBI come up with a database for all metal transactions at recycling centers," explained GBI spokesman John Bankhead. "But it was not funded; it had to do with providing the database once funding was made available and that hasn't been done."
And without having a record of what's being sold to area recycling centers investigators have no way of knowing where the metal might be going. That's why the GBI is monitoring similar databases elsewhere.

"GCIC, in the meantime, has gone to another state that has set up a database similar to our requirements and we're working with that state to utilize their database," said Bankhead.

"To see if we can cut the cost of implementing this program. Right now that's going to depend on funding that hasn't come yet."

The stolen grates are a huge danger to drivers who have to pull off the interstate shoulder. And the lack of a grate can also lead to flooding in bad weather.

The Department of Transportation is asking motorists to report anything they see suspicious concerning these grates. Because, after all, they belong to you.

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