If you’re thinking of stealing a manhole cover in China, think again.
The top judicial bodies in China have brought in new strict punishments for those who remove or damage manhole covers, with the maximum sentence being the death penalty.
The Supreme People’s Court, The Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security have issued a joint statement, instructing courts to penalise people more strictly if they have been found to steal or damage manhole covers, the official People’s Daily reports.
The statement said that the removal or destruction of manhole covers was sufficient for people to be charged with either “endangering transportation”, or “endangering public safety”.
The maximum penalty for both of these charges is the death sentence.
The official People’s Daily said that it was of the view of the highest legal powers that “the theft or destruction of manhole covers on the road… is sufficient to overturn/destroy a car or tram”.
According to China Daily, there were more than 70 injuries or deaths due to broken or stolen manhole covers between 2017 and 2019.
Some people have attempted to steal manhole covers in order to sell them for scrap metal. China Daily notes that there has also been a problem with taxi drivers removing manhole covers to “steal water and clean their vehicles”.