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15 July 2011, 06:00
Hertfordshire County Council has had to fork out more than 45-thousand pounds after 152 drain covers have been stolen over the last couple of months.
44 have been taken in Watford, with other areas affected including Abbots Langley, Kings Langley, Bovingdon, Harpenden, Potters Bar and Ware.
Stuart Pile, Executive Member for Highways and Transport, has been telling Heart:
"Removing these covers poses a major risk to public safety, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians, not to mention the cost to taxpayers for replacing them. These thefts mean we have to use valuable resources to replace them - resources that otherwise could have gone towards additional maintenance work.
"Towns in the west of the county have been particularly badly hit but we know from previous experience that the criminals responsible can quickly move on to other parts of the county, so we're asking all of Hertfordshire's residents to be vigilant."
Councillor Pile continued:
"We are working closely with the local police to tackle this issue. We are also starting a trial in the Welwyn Hatfield area using specially designed plastic covers instead of metal ones. If we're satisfied that this is an effective way to tackle the problem, we'll start using these new covers around the county."
Detective Inspector Gerry McDonald, who leads on the force's campaign against metal theft, commented:
"Under Operation Devon, we target those responsible for these thefts and work closely with scrap metal merchants across the county to prevent the stolen metal being sold on. The public can help too - if you see anything suspicious and think metal is being stolen, please contact us on 999."