City tracks down stolen stormwater grates

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Note to metal thieves: You don’t want to mess with the Vancouver Public Works Stormwater Maintenance and Operations Team.

Team members turned detective after folks reported several missing stormwater grates within Vancouver’s city limits, according to a bulletin.

Team members checked around and discovered that 11 were missing around town. More were stolen in the unincorporated area of the county.

The problem was that the missing grates are old, rectangular and made of steel, the bulletin said. Each had been custom-made years ago to fit specific, poured-in-place stormwater catch basins.

If the grates weren’t recovered, the city would have to spend about $2,250 in taxpayer money to have six of them custom-made, according to the bulletin from city public works spokeswoman Loretta Callahan and police spokeswoman Kim Kapp.

So the stormwater team went into action.

Chris Marler, a stormwater team supervisor, called several large scrap metal dealers and asked them to watch for the stolen grates.

Bob Eichhorst, the other team supervisor, visited some of the smaller scrap metal buyers. He found six of the city’s catch basin grates and three more used for field and ditch inlets.

Unfortunately, the city may have to spend money for custom-made replacements for several more grates that remain missing.

Folks who find the grates are asked to call the Operations Center at 360-696-8177; those who see suspicious activity around grates are asked to call 911.

The Vancouver Police Department is aware of the thefts, the bulletin said.

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.