Restaurant Row Stumped by Tree Guard Thefts

By Mathew Katz on May 4, 2012 10:14am 

The Times Square Alliance said that thieves stole half of a metal grate protecting soil around this restaurant row tree.
The Times Square Alliance said that thieves stole half of a metal grate protecting soil around this restaurant row tree.
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Times Square Alliance

MIDTOWN — Thieves ripped away iron guards protecting roughly 20 trees on Restaurant Row, the Times Square Alliance announced Friday, one day after ConEd revealed the theft of more than 30 manhole covers  were stolen around thfrom around the city.

According to the business organization, the tree guards disappeared last weekend, much to the bafflement of the restaurants on the block and the alliance itself.

Each guard is a two-to-three-inch deep iron grade that covers the soil around the tree, protecting its roots and allowing pedestrians to tread on it.

The grates have been protecting trees on the West 46th Street block for since the 1970s, and it will cost the alliance thousands of dollars to replace them.

The alliance is now offering a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the conviction of the thieves who took the guards.

On Thursday, Con Edison said that thieves walked away with dozens of their cast-iron manhole covers, presumably to sell for scrap. The Times Square Alliance could not say that their tree guards were sold for a similar purpose, but did make the connection between the Restaurant Row thefts and the manhole snatchings.

"We’ve been dismayed and stumped by the recent disappearance of these tree guards that have protected the trees on historic Restaurant Row since the 1970s," said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins.

"We didn’t have a probable cause for their disappearance until now. This crime seems to fit within a larger citywide pattern."

Anyone with information or tips as to the identity of the grate-takers should call the Times Square Alliance Public Safety Hotline at 212-452-5218.

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