Burglars are risking the lives of themselves and innocent members of the public by committing crime.
The warning has been issued by police in Stoke-on-Trent following an incident at an address in Scotia Road just after 8.30pm on Monday.
Officers from both Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to the address to find that offenders had stolen and/or damaged copper piping within the property. This piping was carrying the gas supply. Fortunately the incident was made safe and the gas switched off and no further damage or injury was caused.
The immediate gas supply was quickly shut off and the property ventilated. No one was in the house at the time and neighbouring properties did not need to be evacuated.
Chief Inspector Peter Hall, from Stoke-on-Trent division said, ‘An investigation into this incident is now underway and my officers want to hear from anyone who saw suspicious persons and/or activity in Scotia Road last night. Fortunately the swift actions of the emergency services, together with gas experts, were able to avert any potential explosion. I believe that this was a foolish and inexperienced thief, not someone trying to cause extensive damage or injury by causing a gas leak. Unfortunately crimes of this type cause thousands of pounds of damage and provide the thief with little more than petty cash from the value of the scrap stolen. Cutting into any piping where mains services are connected is very dangerous and could lead to serious injury or loss of life. I would urge local people to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to us, particularly where properties are known to be vacant. Staffordshire Police will continue to work hard to bring offenders to justice.’
Ian Sloss, Risk Reduction Manager for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service said ‘People who carry out this type of crime expose themselves and others to possible serious injury, or even worse. The ignition of gas which has been released, accidentally or otherwise, can cause fires which result in explosion. This endangers the life of the perpetrator, the general public and emergency services staff called to attend an incident.’
If anyone has any information on this incident they are urged to contact Staffordshire Police on: 0300 123 4455 quoting Crime reference number: 0802 of 11/01/10