New Garden interim Township Manager Spencer Andress said Friday: "Speculation is that some of the grates may be used in projects where grates are needed. . . .
"In such cases, the value would be higher than for scrap," which an Internet search told him ranged up to 50 cents a pound.
In November, police in Bethlehem, Pa., charged a 25-year-old man with stealing 60 storm grates over 2 1/2 weeks and selling them to scrap yards to buy heroin.
Seven grates earned him $64, the Allentown Morning Call reported.
Locally, state Trooper Corey Monthei, public relations officer for the Avondale barracks, reported thefts in the last two weeks in Pennsbury, which state police officers cover because the township lacks its own police force.
Pennsbury Township Manager Kathleen Howley said Thursday that two grates had been stolen there, on a subdivision road with no outlet, limiting the possibility of injuries to unknowing passersby.
"Fortunately, we haven't been hit as bad as other surrounding townships," Howley said, noting that Kennett Township had lost "considerably more than two."
In January, New Garden Township reported that its storm drains lost 12 grates from Dec. 27 through Jan. 3, in the developments of Brittany Hills, Harrogate North, and Harrogate South.
New Garden's Andress said in an e-mail this week that his town has lost roughly $4,800 from the thefts.
"The cost of the grate only, no incidental or installation costs, is an average of $275," Andress wrote.
"The cost for installation, transportation, handling, etc., involving township personnel is an additional $125, roughly."
Andress said that, "so far, the dollars have come from the current year road-department budget.
"If the thefts continue," he wrote, "then it may be necessary to reallocate money from other projects."
The Chester County thieves, if they are acting alone, may not be feeling geographically inhibited.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Gene Blaum said Thursday afternoon that his agency's only recent report was of a "drainage inlet cover" stolen from a section of I-95 in Tinicum Township "a week or so ago."
Also Thursday, Robert J. Willert, township manager in Concord, Delaware County, responding to a citizen's report about an incident there, said five grates had been stolen there on Feb. 22.
Contact Walter F. Naedele at 610-313-8134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.