Kent alert follows drain cover thefts

Drivers and cyclists are being warned to be alert after almost 200 drain covers have been stolen from Kent's streets in the last few weeks.

Council officers are aiming to make any missing manhole covers safe within two hours of the theft being reported.

Kent Police said they currently investigate about 300 metal thefts every month - a rise of 25% in a year.

Councillor Bryan Sweetland from Kent County Council said: "These are mindless and irresponsible thefts."

'Market-driven crime'

Metal thefts reported to police included lead from church roofs, telephone cable and even a handrail from the promenade at Cliftonville.

Kent Police and British Transport Police targeted almost 50 breakers' yard and scrap metal dealers as part of a day of action.

Ch Supt Steve Corbishley said: "It's a classic market-driven crime, so as the value of metal goes up, unfortunately so do the offences."

He said that police needed to work with the recycling industry.

Ian Hetherington, from the British Metal Recycling Association, said: "Metals theft is a real problem for the metals industry.

"To combat this we are working with the Association of Chief Police Officers and industries, including telecommunications, railways, utilities and construction that use products containing valuable metals."

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