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Grate Drain Robbery: Sharp rise in the number of drain covers stolen

Coun Matthew Morley with one of the old-style grates that are being taken by thieves.
Coun Matthew Morley with one of the old-style grates that are being taken by thieves.

Metal thieves are turning roads into potential deathtraps by stealing drain covers to sell for scrap, Wakefield Council’s transport chief has said.

More than 220 gully covers have been taken over the past year from roads across the district, setting the taxpayer back £66,000.

Coun Morley with the empty frames from stolen grates.

Coun Morley with the empty frames from stolen grates.

Coun Matthew Morley, cabinet member for transport and highways, said: “The theft of drain covers is becoming a major concern, particularly because of the real danger it can cause to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

“The people who are stealing the drain covers clearly have no thought for the safety of others and how their selfish actions could put others at risk.

“At a time when budgets are squeezed by government reductions – there is also a significant cost to the council, which takes money from other areas. We need everyone to vigilant about this kind of criminal action.”

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 imposes strict conditions on scrap metal dealers, giving authorities the power to enter and inspect premises for items such as drain covers and issue fines up to £5,000.

From April 2009 and up to the introduction of the new law, 1,880 gullies were stolen across the district costing in excess of £500,000 to replace.

The number of gully thefts then reduced significantly to 14 in 2016/17.

When the price of scrap metal increases, the more grates will begin to disappear.

Thieves are targeting the older grates which are heavier and are not bolted in place.