Authorities say criminals are stealing rain grates from highways, putting first-responders at risk. The thefts leave large holes in the emergency lanes up and down Georgia 400.
Officials said that the holes are large enough for someone to fall into. They believe that it takes several two or three men to pry open the grates and haul them away.
In the last few days, at least 31 grates have been stolen on Georgia 400 between Sidney Marcus Boulevard at Interstates 85 and 285, at a cost of more than $14,000.
Beyond the high cost to taxpayers, officials said that the thefts create a danger for first responders, who use the shoulders to get to emergencies.
"It would damage a tire or any vehicle that is going down the roadways," said Mark McKinnon of the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Authorities believe a crew dressed as DOT workers or contractors are responsible for the thefts. Anyone with information is urged to call 511 or 911.