11/23/2012 01:59 EST | Updated 01/23/2013 05:12 EST

Thieves stealing storm drain covers, say Vancouver police

Vancouver police say thieves have stolen more than 100 storm drain covers this year, leaving pedestrians at risk of walking blindly into a gaping hole.

Catch basins, covered with large metal grates, are located near curbs and in alleys to drain water from roadways. Most are one or two feet deep, but police say some are as deep as six feet.

"Missing covers pose a significant public safety risk. Pets, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists could all be seriously harmed by an open catch basin," said Bruce Todd with the City of Vancouver.

"In the dark, people may not recognize that a catch basin is missing or the open hole may be covered with leaves and debris making it harder to distinguish the hole from solid ground."

The cast-iron covers, which weigh about 140 pounds, cost the city $176 while police say it’s estimated they would be worth about $14 on the scrap metal market.

Police say 92 covers were stolen in June, and another 19 have gone missing since September.

The thefts happened throughout the city, but police say a higher number of thefts occurred on the city’s west side.

Anyone who spots an open catch basin is asked to alert the city by calling 311.