Theft of manhole covers on the increase

Twenty-eight covers were taken from the A4155 between Henley-on-Thames and Reading, and almost 20 from the A4074, between Ipsden & Woodcote.

Thames Valley police believe a white Ford Transit van seen in the area may be connected to the thefts.

They say the covers were probably taken for scrap metal. Traffic cones have been set up in affected areas.

This is the latest in a raft of access cover thefts and is one of the reasons that GET A GRIP! is growing into such a potent campaign, and demonstrates the threat these iron covers represent for motorcyclists, whether in situ or in absence!

Many thefts do not make the news, but in April police in Essex were urging all road users to be careful after the theft of 59 manhole covers in Maldon and its surroundings in Essex. It is believed the manhole covers have been sold for their scrap metal value.

Only a month earlier a rash of manhole cover thefts hits Swindon. 40 covers were stolen in a week and again, Wiltshire Police said the metal discs were presumed to have been stolen and sold as scrap.

Local Pc Mark Hurry said he was worried motorists or even pedestrians may encounter the holes in the dark, with potentially fatal results, which is something MAG and the GET A GRIP! campaign have been highlighting.

Thefts in the first 3 months of 2010 cost Swindon Borough Council £15,000 in repairs. Swindon Council spokesman Richard Freeman said the thieves looked plausible, because they were wearing high-visibility jackets and using work vans.

Police said the thefts were being driven by the high price of scrap – quality cast-iron can sell for £100 a ton. If all councils and utility companies were to fit non-slip, composite manhole covers, this is one problem that wouldn’t exist while at the same time providing consistent grip levels for bikers.

For more information on the GET A GRIP! campaign, please go to: