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Roads in Fareham are being left in a hazardous condition for road users and pedestrians by the theft of iron drain covers.
Over the weekend (6 and 7 October) 24 gully gratings were stolen in the area from a number of roads mainly in Warsash and Locks Heath.
Aside from the cost to the council tax payer to replace the gullies - at around £200 per gully - there is a real danger that people could be seriously injured while out walking, cycling or even driving as a result of drain holes being left uncovered.
The County Council is urging residents to report missing gullies or suspicious activity in a bid to stop the thefts and keep the highways safe. The Council's Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Mel Kendal, said:
"It is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured. We are talking about potentially life changing and life threatening injuries, as a result of gully thieves' selfishness. Stealing gully gratings is mindless, highly dangerous and places greater financial burden on the council tax payer. These thieves will get around £8 per gully in scrap metal value but the total cost to replace those stolen at the weekend is likely to be in the region of £5000.
"There is no reason for anyone to take a gully grating other than theft or, as a thoughtless prank. For obvious reasons we must replace the gratings as quickly as possible but doing so means that we are diverted away from daily highways maintenance tasks.
"We have reported these thefts to the police and they are investigating. We would be grateful for help from local people and I urge anyone who either notices that a gully grating is missing, or sees someone acting suspiciously near a highways drain, to contact us or the police immediately."
Concerned residents can report gully thefts by calling the Police on 101 or the County Council on 0845 603 5633.