COPPER thieves in Skegness are putting themselves and others in grave danger according to police and victims who say the crime is on the increase because of an economic boom in the third world economy.
As many as 10 properties were attacked over the nights of April 6 and 7 on Lincoln Road, Lyndhurst Avenue, Tarran Way, Queens Road and Dutton Avenue including one where the theft from a building on Lincoln Road that had been coverted into flats caused a major gas leak.
Sergeant Andy Hickinbottom, from Skegness Police Station, said: “In a bid to make a few pounds from selling the copper, these irresponsible thieves have put the lives of many residents in danger and posed a real risk of a major explosion.
“We would urge local residents to be especially vigilant and report any suspicious activity and people. If anyone has any knowledge of persons offering to sell large amounts of copper piping, they should let us know.
“Metal theft is not a victimless crime; significant damage is caused to the property which costs the householder a great deal in time and money and the consequences of a gas explosion resulting in injury or loss of life cannot be measured”.
Crime prevention officer Nic Hanson said police were working with local scrap dealers on an awareness campaign.
He said that although western economies were in recession those in India and China are booming and demand for copper from the UK is extremely high which has pushed up the value of the metal locally.
Troy Cargill from the Lincolnshire Imp Cafe on Lincoln Road is one of the victims. He has been targetted for copper twice in one month.
He said this has not only put lives in danger, cost him and his elderly landlords money, inconvenienced his customers and interrupted cafe business, but it has also caused him to lose sleep at night in fear of when the thieves will strike again.
“They have a complete disregard for their’s or anyone else’s safety,” he said.
Anyone with information about the thefts should contact Skegness Police Station on 0300 111 0300 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.