RESIDENTS in Nottinghamshire are being asked to keep an eye out for thieves who are stealing roadside grates – sometimes in broad daylight.
Since the beginning of the year 693 cast-iron gully grates have been stolen, costing the County Council £275,000 in replacements.
59 were stolen in the Mansfield area over a two-week period in June and in the Newark and Sherwood district 214 were stolen in the first six months of the year – 114 more than the same period last year.
The majority of the thefts take place after dark or at weekends, but there have been instances where grates have been stolen during the day, in full view of passers-by.
But because the thieves often use pick-up trucks with yellow flashing lights, many people assume they are legitimate workmen carrying out highway repairs
Now residents are being urged to call the police if they see anything suspicious.
“We want people to be vigilant,” said Coun Richard Jackson, County Council cabinet member for Transport and Highways.
“We’re being hit in the evenings and at weekends, but sometimes even in broad daylight by people who look the part but are not County Council highways workers.
“They use pick-up trucks with yellow flashing lights and very often a sign across the back saying highway maintenance.
“But residents should be aware that, except in extreme circumstances, if there are people working on the highway at unusual times, or from vehicles that do not have official County Council livery, then it is almost 99% certain that they’re not us.
“These gully grates are expensive to replace because, although the thieves mostly just take the grate and leave the frame behind, we have to buy the replacement as a complete unit.
“This is money which could have been spent on other highways works.”
Anyone witnessing anything suspicious should phone Nottinghamshire Police on 0300 300 9999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.