Council spends £40k to replace stolen manhole covers

Lincolnshire County Council has spent around £40,000 in the past 12 months to replace stolen gully grates and manhole covers.

The problem stems as metal theft developed into a national problem with theft of metal from churches, houses and rail infrastructure.

The county’s highway authorities dealt with the theft of signs and gully covers for several years, but the recent increase in such incidents is costing the County Council more to replace.

Around 200 stolen gully grates and manhole covers have been replaced over the past 12 months in Lincolnshire, at a cost of £40,000.

Thefts tend to be of older non-hinged gully covers and the lighter manhole covers used on minor roads, explained in a report Paul Rusted, head of highways client services at the County Council.

Around 30-40 sites across the county have been affected.

Only older manhole covers seem to be targeted, as new specifications include a hinge which connects gully grates to their frames, which makes it harder to steal.

Although not always easy to remove, gully grates and manhole covers have been stolen with increasing frequency over recent years.

They are usually made of ductile iron and is sufficient metal content to make them susceptible to theft.

Temporary composite gulley covers are often used to make the location safe until a permanent repair can be carried out.

Paul Rusted added: “The recent increase in such thefts, not just on the highways but from churches and railways too, has led to a more proactive approach from police forces.

“In Lincolnshire, the police have launched Operation Brompton, which targets illegal activity in scrap yards. Metal theft is just not worth the risk.”

Rusted also explained that thefts of sign plates, metal parapets and some barriers has been an issue for many years.