COUNCIL chiefs are warning residents to be on their guard after a second spate of gully thefts in the space of six months.
Several covers have been stolen from the Gorsey Lane area of Bold by thieves desperate to sell on the metal to unscrupulous scrap dealers.
Town hall officials are also concerned about the potential for harm for anyone who inadvertently stepped into one of the uncovered drains.
A similar sudden spate of gully cover thefts in September last year is estimated to have ended up costing St Helens taxpayers more than £3,000.
Mindless thieves have stole 10 roadside gully covers in Rainhill, Sutton. Bold and Thatto Heath - and have left Town Hall bosses counting the spiralling cost.
But council chiefs, who say each repair could cost them up to £330, insist each stolen grid would only make a small fraction of that - about £10 - if sold on as scrap.
Town Hall bosses say they simply don’t have the money to replace all the age-old gully covers with the modern ductile steel type, which are more difficult to pinch and to melt down.
Peter Wainwright, an assistant highways engineer with St Helens Council, said at the time: “The stolen gully covers are almost certainly going to be sold on as scrap. But our drainage advisor tells us that each cover would only make about £10. It’s hardly worth all that effort to steal them, is it?
“In contrast, each theft ends up costing the council hundreds of pounds. Just responding to each call out costs £40 during the day and treble that out of hours.
“Then we have to put a temporary plastic gully lid on, which is worth about £70, and to make a permanent repair, a new lid, frame and patch costs about £220.”
Town Hall chiefs say gully cover thefts have become increasingly common across the borough in recent years.
In 2009, for instance, more than 100 grids were stolen across St Helens.