It's a disturbing trend that can put you in danger. Crooks ripping off manhole covers and selling the scrap for a quick buck.
"It's brass valves, it's the grates from the highway, it's manhole covers and it's all
of it," said Jim Chisum with Spiracorp.
Metal theft continues to spiral out of control in the Valley. Chisum makes his living stopping metal crooks in their tracks. He said it's more than inconvenient, its downright dangerous.
"Imagine if that was your family in that car, you know it's going to be a pretty sudden stop and people can get injured," said Chisum.
Only city and county governments are allowed to have manhole covers so when a thieve takes them in to sell, it raises a major red flag.
"The people usually generally know that you can't just walk into a recycling plant with a manhole cover. They're not allowed to take them so it's suspicious," said Tom MacKenzie with the Merced County Sheriff's Department.
Investigators say Issac Gonzalez waited in the car while Dorothy Alt and Joy McKay tried selling the covers to a recycling plant. The plant soon after called the Madera County Sheriff's Department and the suspects were arrested.
Manhole covers are usually sold for just a few bucks, but it can cost cities and counties hundreds to replace them.
"You do have waves of it where it gets really bad to the point to where it's driving communities crazy," said Erica Stuart with the Madera County Sheriff's Department.
Its' something local law enforcement is working in tandem to prevent.
"All law enforcement regardless of the color of the uniform, we're all working together," said Stuart.
Stuart said 90% of the crime in the area is fueled by drugs.
Each of the three suspects is being held on a $10,000 bond.