Manhole covers stolen from Makiki work site

By Paula Akana
Published On: Feb 19 2013 06:31:00 PM HST

 A rare crime in Hawaii that takes a lot of muscle, but offers little moolah.

HONOLULU -

Grace Pacific crews were hard at work tearing up Dominis Street in Makiki and repaving the busy road.

Part of that includes removing the manhole covers while the work is being done.  They were placed on the adjacent area off the road.  On Tuesday, several of those manhole covers were missing -- someone stole them on Presidents' Day.

"Yeah it surprises me.  It doesn't happen often.  We've only had one incident before this and we've been doing it for a while so it's unusual for us," said Darrell Goo, Grace Pacific's senior vice-president of operations.

Area residents told KITV4 News that several men loaded "quite a few" manhole covers into their truck.  Nobody's sure how many.

In at least one instance., a neighbor said the men chipped away the concrete surrounding the cover before putting in their truck. They left the concrete behind.

Grace Pacific officials say it's a fluke.  They normally keep them stockpiled in their Kalihi work yard.  The subcontractor picks them up when the job is done and puts them back in place.

"This one street in Maikiki.  We've done others and put the manhole covers back already.  Just one instance.  I guess we weren't watching what we were doing.  An opportune time on a 3-day holiday," said Goo.

When residents asked the thieves what they were doing, they told them to check with the Board of Water Supply.

We checked with the Board of Water Supply on Tuesday.  They said they are investigating and they aren't sure how many were stolen or how much it will cost to replace them.

The question is what do you do with an 80-to-100-pound manhole cover?

"They are heavy and I'm not really sure what they're worth.  I'm not sure it's worth carrying one of those.  Probably hurt your back!" said Goo.

Recyclers tell us, at today's steel prices, they would only fetch $5-to-$10 per manhole cover.

While many will not accept a manhole cover without a written OK from the owner, there are questions whether steel is even covered under the recycling bills passed in recent years.

Honolulu police have opened a third-degree theft investigation.

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