MEDDLING metal thieves are costing cash-strapped Solihull Council in excess of £25,000 a year.
The figure came to light in a report last month about how the local authority was trying to curb the rising number of offences.
One of the biggest problems has been the disappearance of gully and drain covers - 57 were stolen from roads in Blythe ward in January of this year.
A 26-year-old man was subsequently charged with thefts totalling £155,325 from streets in North Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
Despite being a tempting target for thieves, officers has ruled out the wholesale replacement of all 36,427 gully covers with plastic.
This would cost in the region of £5.5m, a sum that is simply impracticable for the council.
But Coun Diana Holl-Allen, cabinet member for safer communities, was briefed about the alternative measures which were being taken across the borough.
They include marking metal with UV pens, increased patrols in the early hours and visiting scrap dealers.
Kath Hemmings, Solihull Council’s neighbourhood manager, said: “Metal theft is increasing and is having a significant impact on the community.
“The theft of street signs, gully covers and manhole covers is becoming more commonplace and can lead to serious injury.
“Metal prices are high and are anticipated to stay high, for example copper currently fetches £4,500 per tonne.”