High steel prices have led to an increase in manhole and drain cover theft across UK. In fact, metals in general are high on priority list for thieves with white vans and scrap metal establishments of ill repute. It is not unknown for large blue motorway signs to mysteriously vanish overnight.
Large sewer grate covers and heavy drain covers are lucrative money spinners for those prepared to take risk. Sold for a fraction of their replacement cost there is still a tidy profit to be made in this trade. A quick check on google reveals that problem is not exclusive to West Midlands. Similar experience in Aberdeenshire, Cambridgeshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk have been widely publicised.
Councils are being urged to consider upgrading their security measures and to investigate possible replacement of some high risk covers with more secure and harder to remove products. More modern covers offer recessed locks which are almost impossible to remove.
Councils are united in their condemnation of this new trend of mindless and irresponsible theft. Their concerns, apart from inconvenience and cost of replacement, are fact that these drains are left exposed and likely to be a serious safety hazard to pedestrians and motorists. Imagine a motorcycle travelling at speed and hitting a hole in road or a small child or elderly person falling into a hole in ground.
Before we condemn UK criminal for this thoughtless and inconsiderate act of selfish profiteering at expense of safety and waste of tax payers contributions, we should take a look at this problem on a global scale. We are not alone. This is common practice in some countries. Surprisingly it is very common and a big problem in China.