Council warns 'dangerous crime' is putting drivers and pedestrians at risk on Hampshire's roads

Multiple drain covers have been taken from Hampshire's road network. Credit: ITV Meridian / PA

One of the south's biggest councils has issued an urgent appeal, following a spate of thefts which could endanger pedestrians and motorists.

Hampshire County Council says, in recent days, eight drain covers have been stolen from the Fareham area, leaving deep openings in the road surface.

These pose a potential hazard to drivers and cyclists in particular, meaning the authority has to spend time and resources making these areas safe.

The money, it says, being spent on dealing with the thefts, is redirected from other crucial highways maintenance, such as fixing potholes.

So far thousands of pounds will need to be spent to rectify the affected areas, but this cost will rise if more covers are stolen.

One of the temporary plastic covers installed. Credit: ITV Meridian

The majority of the thefts have taken place on Roebuck Avenue, near to the junction with Funtley Road.

It's prompted the council to ask residents who live in that area to 'be vigilant' and to be the authority's 'eyes and ears' on the ground.

Anyone who witnesses something suspicious is urged to contact Hampshire Highways immediately, especially if a drain cover is missing.

After 5pm people are asked to contact the police on 101, but if road users appear to be imminent danger the advice is to call 999.

Councillor Nick Adams-King, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Universal Services, said: “While those responsible for the thefts might think this is a victimless crime, they are profoundly mistaken. They are risking residents’ safety and stealing from the public purse. In 2021, for example, the cost to replace 68 stolen drain covers was in excess of £100,000.

“As soon as we become aware that a cover has been taken, our Highways team will deploy cones or barriers to reduce the risk of harm to road users and they’ll assess the type of replacement drain covers needed so new ones can be ordered and fitted as soon as possible.

"Our teams are also exploring the availability of replacement items made from innovative composite alternatives that have no scrap value. However, these are unlikely to be suitable for all sites and they are generally only intended as a temporary fix. Please therefore take extra care on the roads while we do all we can to make the affected areas safe as quickly as possible.”