Monday, July 14, 2008

Hey buddy, do you need a sapling or a manhole cover? I got some. Cheap!

Burton Public Utilities supervisor Mike Holzer stands inside of a storm sewer manhole. (

First it was trees, then it was copper, and now it's manhole covers that Flint thieves have a hankering for:

"Scrap metal thieves have stooped to stealing manhole covers and sewer grates right off the street," reports Bryn Mickle of The Flint Journal.

"Not only is it costly for taxpayers, the disappearing covers create a hazard for drivers and people just walking along the road.

"'That would be a long drop,' said Lyle Hippensteel, utility superintendent for the city of Flint.

"In the past year, the city has had to replace nearly 400 manhole covers and grates that officials believe were likely stolen and sold for scrap."


  1. More pictures of Mike Holzer stuffed into sewers please.

  2. Maybe I'm just out of the loop since I don't live in the states anymore, but with the exception of Flint (though I'm sure this makes the headlines in other decaying cities as well) the only time I have ever come across or heard about people gathering scrap metal to make money is in wartime or immediate postwar situations. Imagine that.

  3. Mike Holzer is the kind of guy photojournalists dream about. From the impish look on his face, I get the feeling he suggested this shot, not the photographer. He's probably a fun guy to hit the bars with.

  4. apparently redgirl has been out of the states for some time now...i can remember even back in the 80s
    people were stripping the aluminum siding off of houses and copper out of the basement usually on abandoned houses.....owing to the price of steel...scrapping or recycling of metals is a viable business......not to mention catalytic converters which is huge because of the titanium pellets, i think it's titanium

    it's hard to beleive that the only time she ever heard of this practice was during or after wartime....i don't remember any wars going on in the early 80's

    scrapping has been going on for years....much of it legitimately...i worked with a world class duck hunter who scrapped to fund his very expensive season of hunting

    in the case of the sewer-grates and manhole covers this should have been stopped at the point of purchase if the scrapyards are willingly buying these in big numbers they should realize there is a problem.....i think that they are as much to blame as the theives who stole them

    one last mom has a house on her street (in Flint) which went back to the bank and one end of the house suffered high wind damage which resulted in over half of the siding coming off, the next door neighbor stacked it up against the house and it is still there 6 months i suppose it has something to do with the location??

  5. Your're right, Slick, I've been away from Flint since the mid-80's and from the US since the mid-90's. In places like Flint, for example, I have always associated illegal scrapping with stripping cars, but not immediately with stealing piping from buildings or ripping off manhole covers. Guess I need to widen my perspective... Maybe I'm in the wrong business! Also, someone needs to do the Mike Holzer Photo Series - that guy's just got it.


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