You likely never think about them, but you'd surely notice if they were stolen. Geoff Redick reports on the theft of dozens of storm sewer grates in Albany and the surrounding area.
MENANDS, N.Y. -- They exist to funnel storm water below ground, while keeping you and your car above ground. But when removed, storm sewer grates can leave behind a dangerous two-to-four foot hole.
Police say two men from Albany created such dangerous conditions by removing dozens of the grates from parking lots and streets in Albany, Colonie, Guilderland and Menands over the past two weeks.
"They're pretty heavy," said Menands Police Chief Michael O'Brien Monday, "but believe it or not, the two suspects were able to pick them up, and put them in their vehicle without much difficulty."
Two men are charged with grand larceny and reckless endangerment in the case: David Kuehl, 43 and John Gulnick, 44. Police say the pair stole the sewer grates and then sold them for scrap at the Port of Albany.
Chief O'Brien says the cast iron covers, which weigh 200 lbs or more, were earning Kuehl and Gulnick $325 per ton. All told, the two men are believed to have stolen and sold almost 8,000 lbs of storm grates, a four ton load worth more than $1,200.
Police believe the pair were funding a heroin habit. They were discovered with hypodermic needles and an amount of heroin in their possession.
Kuehl and Gulnick were jailed Sunday on $5,000 bail. Both are due back in Menands Village Court on January 14.
Officials are not certain they've accounted for all of the storm grate thefts. If you notice any storm sewer grates still missing, you're asked to call local police in your area.