An Upper Macungie Township man is suspected of stealing 60 storm sewer grates across the city of Bethlehem over a period of more than two weeks.
Anthony Guy Devicaris, 25, of 292 Water Lilly Court, was charged with 60 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one felony count each of theft and receiving stolen property following his arrest on Thursday.
Devicaris' girlfriend told Bethlehem police detectives that he was stealing the grates to support their heroin addictions, according to court records.
The thefts occurred between Nov. 13 and Thursday, the arrest affidavit says. The girlfriend, Kaitlyn Culver, told detectives she was with Devicaris on at least five separate occasions when he would steal the grates and then sell them to scrap metal yards around the Lehigh Valley.
On Tuesday, police recovered seven of those grates from H. Blinderman & Son, a scrap metal recycling business in Hellertown, court papers say.
Blinderman's paid Devicaris $64.75 for the grates on Nov. 23, according to records the business turned over to police. Devicaris was also captured on business video surveillance camera footage, the arrest warrant says.
The affidavit said the thefts “opened huge holes in the streets, allowing for pedestrians and vehicles to fall into, creating a risk of serious injuries to human beings.”
The paperwork also noted that each of the 100-pound sewer grates had a value of $250, meaning the total loss to the city is $15,000, plus “several thousand dollars in replacement labor cost.”
The Bethlehem Police Department put out a public call to help find the thief or thieves on Nov. 21, then reporting on its blog that 20 of the grates had been stolen. About 40 more of the grates had been stolen or discovered stolen since that time.
In an updated blog post on Thursday, police included a map that showed where all the grates had been stolen. Many corners of the city had been hit, including streets in both Northampton and Lehigh counties.
The District Attorney’s offices in both counties gave Bethlehem police permission to consolidate the charges against Devicaris in Northampton County Court.
Devicaris was arraigned before District Judge Nancy Matos-Gonzalez and committed to Northampton County Prison after failing to post $35,000 bail.