Reports from northwest London suggest a strange kind of vandalism is afoot. According to Harrow Council, £15,000 worth of drain covers have been pinched from Pinner and South Harrow over the past fortnight.
Some kind of performance art, you might speculate? Could be, although the cast-iron gully grates (which often date back to the time the roads were built) are highly sought-after by unscrupulous metal merchants. With scrap iron fetching a pretty price of £125 per tonne, thieves are considered the prime suspects.
Londonist, however, has another, less orthodox theory. Cast your minds back to the late Eighties, when the Beastie Boys first toured Britain and prompted panic in the press with their rough lyrical stylings and propensity to wear their baseball caps any which way they liked. In their salad days, long before Buddhism and Free Tibet concerts filled their days, the Boys were fond of sporting medallions modelled on the Volkswagen logo. Fans cottoned on, and a spate of auto vandalism was sparked, with Beastie aficionados yanking the ornament off any nearby VW they could find and wearing them like their heroes.
We suspect that some bright young musical act has had the same idea, but instead of VW logos they've plumped for the equally iconic (though, at 50kg each, perhaps more cumbersome) grates. Have you seen any youngsters walking around wearing them? If so, drop us a note. You'll spot their crooked necks a mile off.
What may be bad news for Harrow Council (which has to replace them at a cost of £450 a pop) may be good news for Britain's chiropractors.