Two Albany men have been charged with stealing metal storm grates from Menands and are suspected of stealing them from elsewhere, police said.
John Gulnick, 44, and David Kuehl, 43, both of 48 Fountain Ave., Albany, are accused of selling the grates as scrap metal. Both face charges of felony grand larceny.
The men also were found with drugs and drug paraphernalia, police said.
They are suspected of taking a total of 8,000 pounds of grates from around Albany County, including Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland. Each weighed about 200 pounds.
The pair received $350 for every 2,000 pounds of scrap metal, police said.
The two are also accused of taking the storm grates from several locations in the village of Menands, police said.
Menands police zeroed in on the two after an officer noticed a grate was missing in a parking lot on Dec. 22, Menands Police Chief Michael E. O’Brien said. From there, police checked surveillance photos and conducted interviews. They also checked area junkyards. At one junkyard, police got the names and old addresses, O’Brien said.
The two also face charges of reckless endangerment for leaving behind holes where the grates were, O’Brien said.
The grates was taken from private parking lots, O’Brien said.
In Guilderland, police are looking into whether the two are responsible for taking about 10 grates from Stuyvesant Plaza recently, Guilderland police investigator Chuck Tanner said.
Some of the steel grates were 26 inches square. Removing them left 12-foot-deep holes, Tanner said.
Gulnick and Kuehl were arraigned and ordered held on $5,000 bail each.
They face charges of fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, possession of a hypodermic instrument and second-degree reckless endangerment.
The case has some similarities to a scheme in Schenectady in late 2010 when two men were accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars worth of tree grates from around downtown. They were sold as scrap.
Both men, Warren Ashburn, then 30, of Irving Street, and Charles Williams, then 34, of Union Street, were former employees of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. and were believed to have used the corporation’s forklift to move the grates.
Williams and Ashburn were later sentenced to up to three years in state prison.