Man jailed for stealing over 200 drain covers

01/03/2013

Graham Leith, 27, has been jailed to three-and-a-half years at Hereford Crown Court today after he admitted stealing 207 metal drain covers to the value of £52,000 from locations in Worcestershire and Solihull.

In January 2012, a resident in Batchley, Redditch called the police when they spotted the defendant loading a van with drain covers. He was stopped within a very short time of the initial call by the police and 17 drain covers were recovered from the van which he had hired. He was initially charged with theft to which he pleaded guilty to at Redditch Magistrates' court.

A detailed investigation was then carried out and further drain covers were recovered from Leith's home address as well as bank statements which showed large amount of cash transactions. 

Leith was charged with 12 counts of theft and one of converting criminal property. On the day of the trial, he eventually pleaded guilty to five counts of theft and one of converting criminal property. The other charges have now been dropped.

David Elliott, Sector Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Graham Leith's actions of stealing metal drain covers could have resulted in vehicles being seriously damaged and people being hurt. He had a complete disregard for such consequences as all that he was concerned was making as much money as possible from his criminal activity.

"Through the thorough investigation conducted by the officers involved in this case, the prosecution team were able to build a detailed pattern of the defendant's movements and his crimes. Leith would hire vans with the sole purpose of stealing the drain covers and then transporting them to scrap metal dealers. He would then deposit large amounts of cash, but he was unable to explain where this money was coming from as he was not in any employment.

"Over a three month period, from November 2011 to January 2012, Leith stole 207 drain covers from across the Midlands. This has cost the local Councils £52,000 to replace these covers. At a time of local austerity, crimes such as these are costing the local authorities a lot of money, funds which could have been spent on other services for the local community.

 "The CPS is determined to take a firm line with metal thieves and, in accordance with the Director of Public Prosecutions' specific guidelines on metal theft, we will seek evidential proof of the widespread public harm caused by these acts, beyond the monetary value of the goods stolen, which will allow the court to sentence appropriately.

 "We hope that today's sentence sends out a clear message to metal thieves that what you are doing is illegal, it is blighting communities and when you are caught, the criminal justice system will do everything in its power to ensure that you are brought to justice."

Leith pleaded guilty to:

         - The theft of 150 metal drain covers which belonged to Worcestershire County Council to the value of £37,750

         - The theft of 57 metal drain covers which belonged to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council to the value of £14,250