ROAD users in Hampshire are being urged to be vigilant after a recent spate of drain cover thefts.

These thefts have left deep openings in the road surface, which could cause a potential hazard to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, and also result in significant expense to council taxpayers.

Hampshire County Council’s executive lead member for universal services Cllr Nick Adams-King said: “In order to bring those responsible to justice, we need residents to be our eyes and ears on the ground.

“I would ask anyone who sees any suspicious activity involving highway apparatus or has any information about a drain cover theft to please report this to the Police as soon as possible.

“I would also be grateful to anyone who spots that a drain cover is missing to let us know quickly so that the Highways team can take appropriate action to keep our roads safe.”

He continued: “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.”

To report a missing drain cover to Hampshire County Council, call 0300 555 1388 Monday to Friday, from 8.30am to 5pm.

In emergency situations outside of council office times, the police can be contacted on 101 or 999 if road users are likely to be in imminent danger.

Suspicious activity or information about stolen drain covers can be reported to Hampshire Police via its online reporting system: