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Theft of manhole covers could lead to death of a cyclist, warns AA

Almost 30 drain covers stolen near Henley-on-Thames, apparently for scrap value

Police in Oxfordshire are urging road users to exercise extra caution following a spate of thefts of manhole covers in and around Henley-on-Thames, which the AA has warned could result in a cyclist being killed.

According to the Henley Standard, the latest theft took place on Monday night when nine manhole covers were stolen from a section of the A4155 road between Lower Shiplake and Span Hill.

A fortnight ago, nineteen were stolen from the A4074 between Woodcote and Checkendon, and Thames Valley Police are trying to trace a white transit van seen nearby shortly beforehand.

Superintendent Chris Sharp, area commander for South Oxfordshire, told the Henley Standard: “Given the size and weight of the stolen items and the quantity that was taken, it is more than likely that a van was used by the thieves.

“I would urge anyone who travelled along this road and may have seen anyone acting suspiciously, or any suspicious vehicles parked up, to contact us immediately,” he continued. 

Although the incidents that are the subject of the investigation are confined to a specific part of southeast Oxfordshire, higher prices of scrap metal mean that this kind of offence may be on teh oncrease, and Superintendent Sharp added: “I would also urge people to beware of this type of offence, where thieves target metal to sell on.” 

A spokesman for motoring organisation the AA described the thefts as “disgusting and shameful,” adding, “It could lead to the death of a cyclist and cars could be badly damaged. 

“You hear of advertisements appealing for scrap metal and that is where this incentive lies,” he continued. “To steal metal for the sake of a few pounds is disgraceful.”

Anyone with information regarding the crimes is asked to contact either Thames Valley Police on 08458 505505, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Daclu Trelub | 13 years ago

There's not a scrap merchant in the land wouldn't know what a manhole cover was and if asked to weigh in a batch of them, probably knows they'd be dodgy. The ones who turn a blind eye for the sake of making a few quid should have any licence they have, pulled.

Aapje | 13 years ago

A week ago, a train derailed in The Netherlands because copper lines were stolen. These thieves are not just a pest, they endanger people as well. And that for relatively small gains.

Unfortunately these thieves are rarely caught. I say: mandatory registration of all metal sales (with a copy of the seller's id and full description of the goods sold).

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