ESSEX: Metal theft puts road users at risk

THIEVES have put lives at risk by stealing more than 20 manhole covers from roads in Great Chesterford and Newport, police have warned.

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in the Saffron Walden area are being urged to travel with care following the theft of about �12,000 of metal drainage equipment overnight last Tuesday.

Insp Kevin Wakefield from Saffron Walden Police Station said: “This is a reckless crime, which potentially endangers members of the public travelling along these roads, and will cost taxpayers a significant sum of money in paying for the covers to be replaced.

“This could cause a very nasty accident if someone comes across an exposed drain when travelling along these roads and I would ask people to be alert to the dangers and exercise reasonable caution.”

Twenty-two gully and manhole covers, used with French drains, were stolen from Field Farm Drive in Great Chesterford between 11am last Tuesday (June 15) and 10am the next day.

Thieves also stole two metal manhole covers from Sparrows End in Newport, between 5pm last Tuesday and 7am the following morning.

“These thefts may have happened overnight, and it is highly likely that the thieves were using a vehicle to transport the manhole covers away from the scenes,” said Insp Wakefield.

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“At night, routine road maintenance work will not be carried out and if emergency work is undertaken there is always good lighting to cover health and safety requirements.

“So, if you see people working on rural roads overnight, without any clear identification on their vehicles or clothing, or otherwise behaving suspiciously, please call Essex Police on 999, so that we can investigate whether they are legitimate or not.”

Clerk of Great Chesterford Parish Council, Elaine Culling, said: “We have had incidents of fly-tipping along this rural road, but this is the first time we have had a problem like this.

“The road is not lit at night so it could certainly be dangerous for anyone travelling along there at night. The issue will be discussed at our next council meeting.”