Page last updated at 15:31 GMT, Sunday, 31 August 2008 16:31 UK

Drain cover thefts risking lives

Drain cover
Drain cover thefts cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds

More than 1,000 drain covers have been stolen in County Durham so far this year, highways chiefs have revealed.

Organised gangs are being blamed for many of the thefts, tempted by record commodity prices for the metal.

Durham County Council says the thefts are now becoming a "major and increasing problem."

A county council spokesman said the continuing thefts could be putting the lives of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists at risk.

The authority claims the cost of simply making safe affected drains by using plastic grates has already topped 137,000.

Dave Wafer, the council's acting head of highway management services, said: "The drain covers are targeted by thieves as a way of making a paltry few pounds from the scrap value.

"But the gaping hole left at the kerbside could be potentially lethal to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

"It's totally crazy to put people in such danger for the sake of a few pounds."

He said about 1,100 had been stolen since the end of last year.

Appeal after drain cover thefts
13 Aug 08 |  Hampshire
Taxpayers cover gutter theft cost
27 Jun 08 |  Oxfordshire

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