Drain cover thefts spark safety fears

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THIEVES made off with 20 cast iron drain covers worth around £8000 in the latest spate of metal thefts to hit the Lothians.

The drain covers were stolen from across Midlothian over two days, amid fears that the thefts could have led to a serious accident if adults or children fell into open holes.

Nine covers were stolen from The Wisp at Danderhall, six from Old Craighall Road in Millerhill, three from Myrtle Crescent in Bilston, one from Pentland Road in Loanhead, and one from Millerhill Road in Millerhill.

Jean Liddle, 79, who lives in Myrtle Crescent, said: “It’s terrible and quite dangerous. If they’ve stolen them for scrap metal it’s pure greed because someone could fall down the hole and hurt themselves. ”

Isabel Berston, 64, who also lives on the street, said: “I can hardly believe it. But I don’t think the council has made too much of a job of fixing it because they tarred it over but, because of all the rain, they caved in so they are still quite dangerous.

“It’s a silly thing to do because it could be so dangerous for cars and children.”

Fellow resident Tracy Wilkinson, 37, said: “There’s a cone in one of them and there’s plastic containers been put in others. It’s worrying because although it’s a 20mph zone, cars speed along Myrtle Crescent so there could be quite a bad accident.”

The thefts took place between the early hours of Thursday, June 21 and the following afternoon.

Detectives say the scrap metal trade is “big business” as prices soar due to high demand from India and China.

Drain cover gangs are known to operate all over the UK, many of whom have specialist equipment to remove the covers in seconds.

A police spokesman said: “We are appealing for any information that can help us identify whoever is responsible for these thefts.

“Anyone who was in any of the areas concerned last Thursday and Friday, who noticed any suspicious roadside activity, should contact police.

“Likewise, any dealers who have been offered the drain covers for sale should get in touch.”

Last June, thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to buildings across Leith by a series of lead thefts. The Citadel Youth Centre, Leith Theatre, South Leith Parish Church and the former Bonnington Primary School were among those hit.

In October, thieves stole copper gas pipes from homes in the Capital, leaving dozens of families cut off.

Earlier this month, tough new measures to crack down on the growing problem of metal theft were unveiled.

Licensing regulations will be extended to cover all metal dealers with an annual turnover of £1 million or less, bringing hundreds more dealers into the licensing system.