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Last Updated: Friday, 8 October, 2004, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Great Drain Robbery gang hunted
Drain cover
Police are trying to get to the bottom of the drain cover scam
Thieves have stolen about 50 manhole covers across Fife, creating concerns about public safety.

They started disappearing from roads and pavements in villages and towns last weekend.

Investigators said the thefts have left large holes which can be dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.

The cast iron covers are very heavy and police suspect that two or more people using a vehicle have been involved in taking them.

It is costing, officials estimate, more than 200 to replace each of the covers. That works out at about 10,000 so far.

Constable Maria Murphy, of Fife Police, said "We are very concerned for the safety of motorists and pedestrians in the areas where the covers have been stolen from.

"They leave a large hole in the road or pavement causing potential danger to road users or pedestrians".

Scrap metal

There was a similar series of thefts in Aberdeen in the spring. Fears were again voiced about the threat to public safety caused by the chasms left in the streets.

Grampian Police said at the time they thought the covers were being sold for scrap.

A rise in scrap metal prices had increased the value of the missing items to at least 13,000. The largest covers were fetching up to 700.

The thefts follow similar incidents in Gloucester, West Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

China appears to be the world leader in the manhole theft racket.

In Shanghai, 1,500 covers went missing in two months and the thefts were blamed for at least eight deaths.

No charges against 'manhole' duo
02 Apr 04  |  Gloucestershire
Police look into manhole mystery
26 Mar 04  |  Scotland
Police find stolen manhole covers
15 Mar 04  |  Gloucestershire
China manhole thefts prove deadly
29 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific

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