A retired couple were shocked to discover that 60 FEET of pipe had been nicked off their house by metal thieves – while it was still pumping flammable gas into the property.
John and Sheila Reed were woken at 5:30am by a neighbour who had heard gas hissing from their home last Sunday morning.
They found that 60ft of live gas pipe had been torn from the outside of their home in Drybrook, Glos., leaving flammable gas surging out of a hole in the wall.
Had a spark ignited anywhere near the property the whole place could have gone up in flames.
John, 68, said: ”If I had left the kitchen window open, which I often do, just switching on a light could have caused an explosion.
”It just goes to show that people will go to any lengths to get money nowadays – they’ve got no scruples.
”I never thought someone would take a live gas pipe.”
Copper prices are rising and scrap is now worth about #4,000 per tonne.
Gloucestershire police say the problem of metal theft is split between opportunistic amateur thieves and organised criminals who are doing it nationwide, but called the theft of live pipes ”desperate.”
Chief Inspector Phil Haynes said: ”The theft of live gas pipes shows how desperate some criminals are.
”I think it is a mix of amateur thieves who see it as an opportunity to make a couple of hundred pounds and organised groups who are doing this all over the country.”