Hundreds of thousands of dollars in city-owned property including what 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack described to Sun-Times reporter Dane Placko as “intact tree grates and very good quality sewer caps” was uncovered at a West side scrapyard, Industrial Metal Enterprise, 901 N. Kilpatrick Ave., yesterday.
Joining Waguespack were Chicago Police and 45th Ward Alderman John Arena, pictured in this photo snapped by Waguespack, which was sent to political activist and virtual rabble rouser Joe Lake who promptly shared the images with his nearly 5000 Facebook friends and 32 groups.
According to Lake, a Jefferson Park police officer saw a guy with a truck stealing a tree grate and followed him to the scrapyard, which is located in Alderman Emma Mitts’ 37th ward, home to the city’s first Wal-Mart at North Ave. and Cicero.
Waguespack told The Pipeline that he had been in Arena’s office yesterday afternoon for a meeting when police came in to tell them about the thefts. The two aldermen then drove to the scrapyard. Workers there were trying to remove two large semi trucks full of scrap from the yard’s property, though their efforts were blocked by police, who went in with a warrant to search the grounds.
“Piles and piles of city property, 20 plus feet high were on those trucks,” Waguespack said.
“What do you think about the whole thing?” The Pipeline asked Lake.
“Busted!” Lake replied.
The owner of the scrapyard told Placko that the stolen property had come to him by way of city contractors, and that he has the papers to prove it.
When asked about this, Waguespack replied that the owner of the yard has yet to show police the papers.
“If he thinks he’s innocent, the police told him to prove it with cameras, footage, and papers, but after we were all standing there for a couple of hours, he refused to do it,” Waguespack said.
According to the alderman, approximately three dozen tree grates with a value of $2,000 each had been stolen from the 32nd ward, along with a dozen sewer covers. Other stolen city items include fire hydrant plugs and light pole covers.
The City’s Inspector General was contacted, and according to Waguespack workers from CDOT are on site at the scrapyard this morning, trying to recover the stolen property.
“We’re identifying what we can. Some of this stuff weighs hundreds of pounds and has to be pulled apart very carefully. Some of the grates like the ones in John’s ward have special designs and stamps on them, so we’re looking for those, too.”
Earlier in the year, The Pipeline wrote about neighborhood tree care, specifically the tree protocol for business owners on Division Street, where some trees have grates over their pits, and some don’t. Here is a photo of a steel grate over a tree pit on Division St. The neighborhood’s Special Service Area #33 maintains contracts with Christy Webber Landscaping and Bartlett Tree Experts to care for the parkway trees located on our district’s throughway streets (Milwaukee, Ashland, Division, Damen, and North) as part of a supplemental program.
Below is a photo snapped this morning (Aug. 24) of a tree on the 1600 block of North Milwaukee Ave. that does not have a grate over its pit.