£8K manhole gang strike in Doncaster

CRIME: Crime scene.
CRIME: Crime scene.

Cyclists, pedestrians and motorists’ lives are being put at risk by metal thieves who stole manhole covers from across Doncaster in an overnight spree.

That’s the warning from South Yorkshire Police after a blitz on the town’s roads saw metal grates taken from a host of residential roads across the region.

The covers, worth about £8,000 in total, were taken from Kirk Sandall, Edenthorpe, Balby, Conisbrough and Cantley in a string of overnight raids last Monday.

Now police are contacting local scrapyards to see if any of the thieves have tried to cash in on the haul.

Supt Eddie Murphy of Doncaster Police said he had never heard of so many cases of metal theft in one report and added: “Anyone who is committing this sort of theft is not considering the potential danger to pedal cyclists, and the damage that could be caused to cars and motorcycles, by what they have done.”

Doncaster Council contacted the police to investigate after the gulley grates - the drain covers at the side of the roads - were wrenched up and snatched in what is thought to have been a co-ordinated attack.

Peter Dale, Doncaster Council’s director of regeneration and environment, said: “A number of gulley grates have been stolen this week but we are making them safe and putting in replacement grates which are more difficult to steal.

“These thefts have been reported to South Yorkshire Police and we would encourage anyone with any information to come forward.”

Shortly before Christmas, police launched a countywide clampdown on metal thieves.

Across South Yorkshire, officers stopped vehicles carrying metal and carried out checks that they had a mobile collector’s licence. They also visited scrap metal dealers to check they had a site licence, offer advice and ensure awareness and compliance with the new rules.

In South Yorkshire 63 vehicles were stopped with three people being reported for breaches of the new legislation, with the blitz coordinated by the National Metal Theft Task Force following the introduction of the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act.