CALLOUS thieves left gas leaking out of the wall of a house after stealing copper gas pipes twice in three days.
Thieves struck at the house in the Raikes Parade area of Blackpool which is occupied by an elderly man with hearing difficulties and his sister who has had numerous strokes and suffers from severe anxiety as a result.
The woman’s daughter Suzanne Newton, told The Gazette: “My uncle is effectively my mother’s carer, and this has now caused him more stress and my mother more anxiety.
“It’s despicable and it could have blown the house up. There was gas pouring out. It was only the smell that alerted them to the missing pipes.”
Thieves targeted the house in two separate daytime raids, returning just two days after their first grab to rip the rest of the copper pipes from the wall at the back of the house.
In the past week two cases of stolen copper piping in Mirfield, Yorkshire, and Runcorn have sparked explosions causing large-scale damage to houses.
John Thompson, chief executive of the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, said: “Stealing copper pipes used for gas is extremely dangerous.
“This can – and has – lead to explosions which can harm anyone unfortunate enough to be in the surrounding area.”
Costs to replace the copper pipes could be as much as £1,000, with the elderly pair’s home insurance unwilling to pay for the theft as the pipes were not covered.
Police have advised the brother and sister, who wish to remain anonymous for fear of recriminations, to replace the piping on the inside, otherwise thieves would inevitably return to steal the new pipes.
Ms Newton added: “After the first one they couldn’t use the cooker.
“Now they have no central heating.
“The morning of the first theft my mother made her first trip to the butchers in two years. This has set her back.
“They have both lived in Blackpool all their lives. They just need a normal, quiet life. They already have enough problems.”
Copper prices have peaked in value this year at £4.80 per kilo, after a steady rise from £1.90 in March 2009 during the depths of the financial crash.
One Blackpool metal trader is offering £4 per kilo for copper.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “Scrap metal dealers are visited on a regular basis and any amounts of scrap copper that have been sold to them will be investigated, taking copper in this way is theft and therefore a criminal offence.”
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