Police are asking residents to keep a watchful eye while walking, bicycling and driving down the street.
In recent weeks, the city has seen as many as 15 large metal storm drain grates stolen from the side of roads, which could be hazardous for pedestrians.
“Someone might get injured by falling into these holes,” Cmdr. Ben Horner told Union City Patch.
According to Horner, most of the stolen grates have been taken from roads surrounding industrial complexes, with several taken from near the Whipple Road and Kohoutek Way area.
“A lot of road cyclists use that area to train on nights and weekends,” Horner said. “You’re so focused when you’re riding, you’re not paying attention. There are a lot of joggers in the area, too.”
The heavy grates weigh about 100-pounds and can be as large as four-feet long and two- or three-feet wide, leaving a gaping hole with a seven- or eight-foot drop, according to Horner.
If a car drives into it, “it will swallow your tire whole,” Horner said.
This is the first time Horner has seen this kind of metal theft, he said.
Union City Public Works’ “graffiti buster” Wayne Cruz told KTVU that as many as 15 of them have had to be replaced in recent weeks. The most recent was reported Wednesday.
"Hopefully nobody gets hurt, especially at night time," Cruz told the TV station. "You can't see [the hole] at night."
Horner also told KTVU that officers are keeping a lookout for suspects and have notified recycling yards.
While the cost of each grate is about $300 for the city, the thieves will likely only get a few bucks for each, KTVU reports.
Crews are replacing the missing grates as fast as they can and have started chaining them down to prevent future thefts.
"Usually, the police get out of these things. I don't want to get a call that we have to rescue a child," Horner told KTVU.
Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to call UCPD at 510-471-1365. Anonymous tips can also be left by calling 510-675-5207 or emailing email@example.com.