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Now scrap metal thieves filch our MANHOLE covers

PUBLISHED: 13:12 13 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:00 23 August 2010

A QUIET residential street has become the latest victim of the rise in metal theft, after thieves stole manhole covers during the night. Residents of Pepper Hill, Northfleet, woke last week to find a series of holes in the road where the cast iron covers

A QUIET residential street has become the latest victim of the rise in metal theft, after thieves stole manhole covers during the night.

Residents of Pepper Hill, Northfleet, woke last week to find a series of holes in the road where the cast iron covers had been taken.

Earlier this year our sister paper the Gravesend Reporter revealed that metal thefts are increasing because of a rise in scrap metal prices due to the high demand from countries like India and China.

Three years ago there were 30 reported lead thefts across north Kent, this number increased to a staggering 400 incidents last year.

Kent County Council engineers visited the site and erected bollards and signs over the drains to warn pedestrians and drivers after the thefts on Tuesday, August 5.

It is believed the covers will be sold for scrap, where they can reach up to £10 each.

Kate Nowowiecki, of Kent Highway Services, said: "We take this issue very seriously as it places the safety of road users at risk.

"We are working to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. We do not carry stocks of manhole covers due to the wide variety of types that are used, so we are investigating the use of temporary plastic covers to replace the bollards.

"Replacing manhole covers incurs considerable costs to the taxpayer as it involves a lot of work for Kent Highway Services in terms of time and money."

Metal thefts, which include lead from church roofs and railway signal cables cost the economy £360 million every year.

Detective Gerry Marsh, of Kent Police, has been involved with investigating metal thefts across the county.

He said: "There has no doubt been a significant increase in these thefts and because of the sleeping giants in the Far East metal has become an attractive item to steal.

"The people that do this don't realise the impact that it has. I compare it to stealing a car radio. You break into a car, nick the radio worth £50, but cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage in the process."

Call 08458 247800 with information. Have you been a victim? Call the newsdesk on 01474 320753.

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