|Down The Drain - Grid Thieves Risk Lives
Grid Reference: One of the missing drain covers
Thieves are putting the lives of pedestrians at risk as well as costing the borough thousands of pounds, warn highway chiefs.
In recent weeks council engineers have noticed an alarming increase in the number of metal grids that are being stolen from the borough's roads.
The spate of thefts is concentrated in the Atherton and Tyldesley areas, where so far 36 metal grids have disappeared.
Highways bosses believe the thefts, which have cost the borough £7,000 in replacement grids, could be the work of unscrupulous metal dealers.
Grids, found by the kerbs on most of the borough's roads, allow rainwater into the drains, but protect them from leaves, litter or even people falling in.
Highways bosses say there was a similar spate of grid thefts in Tyldesley last year.
Wigan Council's Assistant Director of Engineering Services (Highways) Mark Tilley, said: "This is a serious matter. These thieves could cause serious injury. As well as possible obstruction and flooding problems, wheels - or even pedestrians - could get trapped in the holes."
Mr Tilley warned that money that had been earmarked for road improvements would have to be spent of replacing the grids.
Engineers are working closely with the police in a bid to flush out the grid thieves and are now asking for the help of residents. If residents see suspicious activity near grids - workers without official vehicles or not dressed in appropriate clothing - they should ring the police.
The police are currently reviewing images from the borough's network of CCTV cameras to identify any suspicious activity.
Residents who want to report a missing grid in their street should call 01942 404347.