Over the past month, hundreds of sewer grates have gone missing from the Joliet area. An investigation of the missing sewer grates led police to suspect the involvement of a tan 1984 Dodge van and a search warrant was obtained to place a GPS tracking device on it.
On February 16th, surveillance of the van allowed officers to observe several sewer grates being removed in the Marycrest subdivision on Joliet’s west side. A traffic stop was conducted on the van and 16 sewer grates were recovered from inside the vehicle. One subject was identified as David A. McClelland of Joliet. McClelland was a relative of the van's owner. Robert L. Myers of Homer Glen, and Bradley Lewis of Shorewood, helped McClelland in the thefts. The three subjects were arrested and taken to the Joliet Police Department.
At the station, Detectives Schott and Landeros interviewed the van’s occupants. The driver of the van, Myers, refused to speak with detectives. Both McClelland and Lewis gave videotaped statements and admitted their involvement in the thefts. The van, driven by Myers, would stop alongside sewer grates as McClelland would get out and remove the sewer grate and pass it to Lewis who would stack the grates in the van.
McClelland gave detectives more information on where they had previously taken the grates to sell as scrap metal to obtain money for their heroin addiction. The scrap yard was Lockport Recycling, located in Romeoville. Detectives and officers in the Neighborhood Response Team went to the scrap yard and spoke with the owner. The owner said he received approximately 200 sewer grates weighing a total of five tons from “Dave” and “Bob” in the past month. Scrap yard employees identified McClelland and Myers in photo line-ups as being the subjects who scrapped the sewer grates.
The grates were loaded into City of Joliet dump trucks and were then taken to the Street Department’s yard.
Several of the grates are from surrounding jurisdictions: Romeoville, Lockport, Shorewood, and Crest Hill.
All three arrestees were charged with felony theft of government property. In addition, the police department seized the van used in the commission of the thefts.
Chief Trafton is proud of the teamwork between the Investigations Division, the Neighborhood Response Team, and the officers assigned to the burglary detail. The streets of Joliet are truly “covered” by the police department.