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Theft of manhole covers could lead to death of a cyclist, warns AA

Almost 30 drain covers stolen near Henley-on-Thames, apparently for scrap value

Police in Oxfordshire are urging road users to exercise extra caution following a spate of thefts of manhole covers in and around Henley-on-Thames, which the AA has warned could result in a cyclist being killed.

According to the Henley Standard, the latest theft took place on Monday night when nine manhole covers were stolen from a section of the A4155 road between Lower Shiplake and Span Hill.

A fortnight ago, nineteen were stolen from the A4074 between Woodcote and Checkendon, and Thames Valley Police are trying to trace a white transit van seen nearby shortly beforehand.

Superintendent Chris Sharp, area commander for South Oxfordshire, told the Henley Standard: “Given the size and weight of the stolen items and the quantity that was taken, it is more than likely that a van was used by the thieves.

“I would urge anyone who travelled along this road and may have seen anyone acting suspiciously, or any suspicious vehicles parked up, to contact us immediately,” he continued. 

Although the incidents that are the subject of the investigation are confined to a specific part of southeast Oxfordshire, higher prices of scrap metal mean that this kind of offence may be on teh oncrease, and Superintendent Sharp added: “I would also urge people to beware of this type of offence, where thieves target metal to sell on.” 

A spokesman for motoring organisation the AA described the thefts as “disgusting and shameful,” adding, “It could lead to the death of a cyclist and cars could be badly damaged. 

“You hear of advertisements appealing for scrap metal and that is where this incentive lies,” he continued. “To steal metal for the sake of a few pounds is disgraceful.”

Anyone with information regarding the crimes is asked to contact either Thames Valley Police on 08458 505505, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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