Traffic danger as thieves target manhole covers

THIEVES are putting road-users lives at risk by stealing virtually worthless manhole covers. About 30 drain covers disappeared from Huntingdonshire and Fenland between Thursday and Sunday last week, including from sites at the Alconburys, Raveley and Bur

THIEVES are putting road-users' lives at risk by stealing virtually worthless manhole covers.

About 30 drain covers disappeared from Huntingdonshire and Fenland between Thursday and Sunday last week, including from sites at the Alconburys, Raveley and Bury - one of them from an A14 slip road at Alconbury.

Although cast iron covers have little scrap value, Cambridgeshire County Council says, each costs around £1,00 to replace. But the gaping holes left by their theft can cause great danger to motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, particularly at night.

Thieves have also been known to target road signs, many of which are plastic and have no scrap value at all.

A total of 200 stolen drain covers have had to be replaced across the county in the past 18 months.

Neither the county council nor the Highways Agency removes drain covers at night unless under properly signed and coned roadworks.

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Richard Kingston, Huntingdon-based divisional maintenance engineer for the county council, said: "This is just mindless vandalism that could have dire consequences. Leaving a hole in the road, especially at night, is highly dangerous. Taxpayers are also left footing the bill for these thieves."

Iain Semple, Highways Agency area performance manager, said: "Removing these covers from drains on trunk roads is extremely dangerous as vehicles can be travelling at high speeds.

"Not only is it unsafe for who ever is trying to steal the covers but could have dire consequences for anyone who hits the hole left by the thief."

CONTACT: Anybody who witnesses covers being stolen should contact either the police or the local highway department but is advised not approach the thieves.

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