RELENTLESS copper thieves are putting lives at risk by stealing gas pipes, residents have claimed.

A spate of gas pipe thefts have been recorded in the Greenstead area of Colchester.

The dates of the thefts range from the end of September up to last Tuesday.

Some houses have been targeted four times.

One resident, who lives in Harwich Road, said piping was stolen from her house between Monday and Tuesday last week.

She said: “My gas was leaking into the street. People could have been killed for this mindless crime.

“I did notice a chap a few days before looking up my driveway but he may have just been nosey.

“I went to work at 5.15am and as I walked out the front door the smell of gas was really bad.

“That’s when I noticed the pipe had been cut and stolen. I had to pay to get it replaced as I own my property.”

She reported the incident to the police who are investigating.

Another resident, of Hickory Avenue who asked not to be identified, said her pipes have been stolen a number of times.

She said: “We had the gas capped on September 25 and the council finally fitted all the pipes on October 1.

“Just four days after having them fitted, they were stolen again.

“I spoke to someone who came out to cap our gas and he said its happening more often, we were his third call that night.

“It then happened again last Monday and five other places were targeted, all down the same road.”

We contacted Essex Police for a comment.

A Colchester Borough Homes spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the police on the theft of copper gas pipes which has occurred at some properties we manage.

“We are keen to raise awareness of this criminal activity, which not only causes inconvenience to residents and expense to replace but is also creating a public safety risk.

“We are asking people to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to police.”