NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One by one the heavy iron gates that protect the trees along Restaurant Row are disappearing.
Over the weekend, residents and restaurant owners on West 46th Street began noticing that nearly two dozen of the tree guards were gone.
“How could they go missing without someone noticing?” asked Times Square Alliance President Tim Thompkins. “It sounds like the folks that are doing this are quite sophisticated about shielding themselves. Now, people will be newly alerted to keep an eye out for this kind of thing.”
The news comes one day after Con Edison reported more than 30 manhole covers have been stolen across the city since March.
Authorities believe thieves masquerading as utility workers may be selling them off as scrap metal.
Now residents are speculating the same thing may be happening with the tree grates.
The two-inch-thick cast-iron grates weigh about a couple hundred pounds and sometimes the thieves only steal half the grate, leaving a portion sticking up, CBS 2′s Kathryn Brown reports.
Longtime resident Betty Valentine said she sees people trip over the missing tree guards every day.
“This is really very dangerous for everybody,” she said.
The Times Square Alliance is offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the conviction of the suspects who took the guards.