A $6000 and rising problem is causing Hamilton City Council to ask the community to be on the lookout for catchpit grate thefts.

In the past few weeks, 12 grates have been stolen, causing headaches for council staff, who are fighting a battle to replace the missing grates before disaster strikes.

Infrastructure Alliance customer and stakeholder liaison Matt Kofoed said that the empty drain holes have been creating hazards for pedestrians, cyclists and animals.

"We're concerned about the possible risks to cyclists, pedestrians and domestic pets. A catchpit is big enough for a dog or cat to fall into and no-one wants to see that happen to their family pet.

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"As for cyclists and pedestrians, obviously there's a risk of injury there if they are caught out by a hole in the road where a catch pit grill should be. We have reported these thefts to police and also let colleagues at neighbouring councils know this has been occurring," Mr Kofoed said.

Mr Kofoed said grates so far have been stolen mainly on the east side of the city.
He is unsure as to why people would steal them, but has a number of ideas.

"We have speculated on a few different possible uses for them ... They could be used as some sort of cooking implement because they retain heat so well, or potentially as some kind of heating device, or they may be on-sold to scrap metal dealers.

"We are heartened by the response from the social media community, and using Facebook has led to a drop-off in thefts — although of course we'd like this to stop altogether as this is costing Hamilton ratepayers money."

He said grates costs roughly $500 each to replace.

"Catchpit grates are replaced as soon as possible. If we don't have enough replacement grates on-hand, we cover the hole as a risk mitigation."

He encourages members of the public to keep an eye out for the thieves, and to contact the police.