Thieves have sunk to new levels in Greene County, concentrating their efforts on metal grates used to drain water at several area car washes.
Five metal grates were stolen between Sunday and Tuesday from the Blue Springs Car Wash at 8165 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy., sheriff's Deputy Michael MacDonald said in a report.
A coin-operated vending machine in a car wash bay was also broken into, the report said. About $100 in damage was done to the stainless steel door of the vending machine.
The square metal grates that were stolen are between 2-1/2 feet and 3-feet wide and 1-1/2 inches thick, the report said. They are valued at about $1,000 in total.
Two metal grates were stolen from a car wash bay between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon at the Parkway Car Wash, at 2045 Main St., Mosheim, sheriff's Deputy Robert Livingston said in a report.
The grates are worth $400 in total, the report said.
The business owner told deputies that similar thefts were reported recently in Newport.
Owners of local metal recycling businesses said that no metal grates have been brought in for recycling, according to the report.