EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- An 11-year-old boy's fall into a manhole after its cover had been stolen reflects a problem in East St. Louis, where manhole coverings are proving a hot commodity for thieves.

St. Louis' KSDK-TV reports that 30 manhole covers have gone missing in the city during the past few months, with thieves finding them attractive as items to sell as scrap metal.

The television station reports that a boy fell into one of the holes this week. His family is suing the city.

Mayor Alvin Parks says the concern isn't just about safety. He says an uncovered manhole could allow trash and other bulk items to make their way into the sewer, perhaps compromising the system's effectiveness.

The city plans to install covers with locks, and it is adding security cameras.