Here's an article about some people who stole a 50-foot long steel bridge in Pennsylvania.
Metal thievery has been an increasing problem for a long time now, but it's reaching critical levels, and by that I mean levels at which the municipalities are no longer going to be able to just keep replacing stolen metal items, because they just can't afford it.
If you're ever walking around the city for some reason, look around you at the water meter covers. The vast majority--residential meters--have small metal plates & lids. They stopped buying these a few years ago and started replacing them with plastic lids that aren't worth stealing. But around businesses and wherever irrigation systems are in place, you will see larger meters that use what we call #1 and #2 lids. Both are rectangular; the #1 lids are the smaller of the two.
Your water company has reached a critical point at which it can no longer replace these stolen lids. It's just too expensive, and as soon as one gets replaced, it almost immediately gets stolen. The problem is that there is no plastic lid of a #2 size that can stand up to being driven over, which is often what happens with these meters because they're in driveways, parking lots, streets, etc. So you are going to see more and more sidewalk-sized barricades popping up everywhere--right on top of where someone stole a lid. They're only made from plastic and aren't worth stealing.
There will be no more metal meter lids in S.A. The thieves have literally stolen themselves out of business. If you have a rectangular meter lid on your property, I recommend taking matters into your own hands and welding a chain to one end of it--and welding the other end of the chain to the inside of the box--so it can still be opened but not as easily stolen. Because when it's stolen, it won't be replaced.