POLICE are investigating a spate of drain gully thefts across Avon and Somerset.

Incidents have been reported across the Chew Valley, Dundry, Wrington, Nailsea, Wraxall and Southville.

Officers are asking people to get in touch if they see any suspicious activity.

Detective Inspector Angela Burtonwood said: “We've had several calls from members of the public providing us with information and we are grateful for those details, which we’re reviewing and assessing.

“With crimes of this nature, the best way of apprehending the offender or offenders responsible is by catching them in the act.

"So we would ask members of the public who see suspicious behaviour, including people in his-vis jackets seemingly lifting or inspecting drain covers late at night, to call us right away.”

Police are asking scrap metal merchants to call if they see anyone trying to offload the covers.

Det Insp Burtonwood added: “Not only will it cost taxpayers money to have these covers replaced, but there are also clear health and safety concerns with drain gully covers being removed.

"We are working with local authorities across the force area to help mitigate those.”

A spokesperson for North Somerset Council said: “Apart from being incredibly dangerous, incidents like this can end up costing thousands as we have to ensure each gully is kept safe, while we arrange for replacement covers to be installed.

"This may seem like a minor crime but to put it into perspective, the cost of replacing them is the equivalent to a crew fixing potholes for a month.

“We’re working with the police to find those responsible.

"If you have any information which could help the investigations, please contact them.”

A spokesperson at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “More than 40 drain covers have been stolen across B&NES.

"A significant amount of time and money will be needed to resolve this issue.”

If you see any drain covers being stolen, call 999 and give reference number 5222091286. Or if you have information relating to the thefts call 101.

You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via its anonymous online form.

No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court or have to speak to police when contacting Crimestoppers.