ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – It`s a crime that could cost St. Louis City taxpayers $100,000 by the end of the year. Thieves are stealing metal hooks from the sides of alley dumpsters. The director of streets says 500 metal hooks have been stolen so far this year. He believes they are being sold for scrap, possibly for as little as $2 each.
The metal hooks are how mechanical arms from trash trucks lift dumpsters to empty them.
'You`re talking $45 to $50 a piece plus labor to replace each one,' said Todd Waelterman.
Then there are other costs. Crews must either remove trash by hand or wait for the hooks to be replaced. Waelterman says each trash truck averages about 4 miles to the gallon so each additional trip can be costly.
The city does use surveillance cameras in some alleys and Waelterman is hopeful those cameras will help catch thieves in action. 'It`s gotta be just a couple guys out there horsing around and we`ve got to stop it.'
The Streets Department is also stenciling the City`s name on each hook in hopes that will stop scrap yards from buying the stolen hooks.
Waelterman says the thefts have been widespread and not concentrated in any one neighborhood. Two were reported stolen on Monday. The thefts were in the 27-hundred block of Texas. The hooks were quickly replaced by street crews.
Waelterman encourages anyone witnessing a metal hook theft from a dumpster to call 911.
He said if a citizen discovers missing hooks they can call the Citizens Service Bureau at 314-622-4800.