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VANCOUVER An odd type of metal theft is costing the city of Vancouver money and putting residents at risk; thieves are stealing storm drain grates.

The theft of metal grates and manhole covers is a recurring problem -- 14 storm drain grates have been stolen in recent weeks.

I think it s extremely dangerous, I don t know why anyone would want to steal the grates. It d be really dangerous if someone were to back into it... (or) even worse, said west Vancouver resident Bryan Seidel.

A metal thief might get 10 cents a pound if they are able to sell it to recyclers. That means an average 100-pound grate would net about $10. The replacement cost for a standard grate is $160 plus the labor costs involved.

It s very frustrating. It s a safety hazard, number one -- we do our best to get out here right away and make it safe, said Chris Marler, a crew supervisor with Vancouver Public Works.

Marler says metal recyclers are aware of the problem and are keeping their eyes out for the metal to show up, but they assure the city they are not buying the grates.

Marler hopes residents will help catch the metal thieves, before someone gets hurt.

I mean we ve talked to people; you have to call 911 as soon as you hear something or see something ... you ve got to catch them in the act, he said.

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