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Posted on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 11 a.m.

Metal thief hauls off 7 manhole covers

By Paula Gardner

Metal thieves have already struck the condemned Liberty Square condo complex in Ypsilanti Township — and at least one thief just took another pass through the buildings at Grove and Rawsonville road.

This time, the target was 7 manhole covers, which were reported missing from roads and alleys in the complex, according to the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department.

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The manhole covers were reported missing on Thursday during a routine inspection by Ypsilanti Township officials.

The township's Office of Community Standards has been monitoring the complex for some time, due to the condition of the buildings. Liberty Square has been the focus of a complex series of legal moves, including tax foreclosure, leading to demolition of the property.

In September, deputies investigated three people when they were stopped in Liberty Square with a truck full of scrap metal, including aluminum siding.

Updated information on that case wasn't immediately available Friday.

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Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

I hate to add government interference but may its time to license and inspect scrap metal dealers. Uncovered man holes are a danger.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 6:31 a.m.

The actual number is higher than 7, as those involved also took the rectangular shaped catch basin covers , throughout the complex. Not only is this a public safety matter, but it is also a taxpayer concern. Who pays for this matter? The taxpayers of Ypsilanti Township through their contract with WCRC. With each MH costing ~$200 and grates roughly half, this is a costly fix. The real irony is that the thieves are only getting $4-6 per lid. At over 100 lbs., it seems like a lot of risk with little reward. The story also lacks the insight of additional thefts from the rear of the shopping center located on the SW corner of Rawsonville and Textile roads. The only plus there is that is a private system, but nonetheless a burden on the property owner. Deletedcomment--There is no need to cut them as they are easily broken with a sledge hammer. The trick is stashing them in the trunks of vehicles that are being scrapped so that then are "unseen", thereby "unknown". Also, some shady scrap yards open exclusively during non-traditional hours for "select" customers in an attempt to disguise the transactions.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 10:35 a.m.

I wonder if the scrap yards are licensed and regulated. Surprise visits might halt some of this

Paula Gardner

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.

Here's some info on Liberty Square from Mike Radzik, who is the township's director of community standards: The demolition has been slowed by due to an appeal by the owners. That case is in the state court of appeals. In addition, on Nov. 23 the township got a court order allowing it to remove squatters, which took place by Nov. 28. "That same day, the Twp boarded up 81 units that were standing open after having been broken into by person(s) unknown. We were assisted on site by a sheriff's deputy who searched each unit prior to boarding it up to ensure there were no people or animals inside," Radzik said in an email.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 2:29 a.m.

I commented above before I saw you had already spoken to Mike Radzik. Did anyone tell you how many squatters were removed?


Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Just out of curiousity...where would one fence or scrap manhole covers? Whoever accepts them HAS to know the covers are stolen....


Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

They cut them up so point of origin cannot be determined.

no flamers!

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Anyone have any info on the status of the plans to demolish Liberty Square?


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

I drive by there every morning. Guess what? The sign says they are being redeveloped. They have tore out the driveway and adding new cement, added new windows to the buildings. I mean they are rebuilding those buildings. The sign does say under construction. So, news people? Might want to go take a lookie and see. I thought they were tearing out the buildings too. Nope.


Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 2:28 a.m.

Paula; the order to demolish is being being appealed.

Paula Gardner

Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

I left a message with Mike Radzik of Ypsilanti Township as I reported this story - I'm hoping to find out, too.


Fri, Dec 2, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Mus be a really strong guy. Those things are pretty heavy.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:29 a.m.

He ( she) probably put one in each pocket