THIEVES have been preparing for the worst of the winter weather by allegedly stealing salt provided by North Lanarkshire Council to grit the roads and pavements.
The local authority hit back at the alleged thefts asking worried householders to report road salt thieves.
David Smart, NLC’s business manager roads operations, said: “We have been filling our 1100-plus grit bins since the end of the summer and already a number are empty.
“Some householders might be holding salt for the worst of winter but we are also in no doubt there are unscrupulous people out there stealing our salt, either for their own business use or to bag and sell it round the doors.”
The council say they are cracking down on the thefts following a series of bizzare incidents last winter including bold thieves asking a senior road official if he wanted to buy salt at his own front door.
The local authority also claim so-called ‘white van men’ targeted scarce road salt provided for the public at the entrance to a depot and a number of grit bins, complete with salt, were stolen from the road network.
Mr Smart added: “People were turning up with vans and trailers to take as much as they could.
“The individuals taking the salt were also putting themselves and the gritting fleet at risk by their actions at the entrance to a very busy operational roads depot and obstructing access in their attempts to remove salt.
“We are aware that a number of people were being community minded and were collecting on behalf of neighbours, and for that we applaud them.
“Others were undoubtedly taking it to use to treat their own yards, business premises or in the worst cases, sell it on - and that is theft.”
The council said many of the bins remained empty last year during the worst of the conditions despite workers working to fill them up.
Mr Smart said: “With the number of grit bins on our network, we were aiming to refill empty bins on a weekly cycle in the worst of the weather but conditions were so atrocious last year we had to concentrate the majority of our resources on keeping priority routes open.
“As conditions eased we then began to refill the bins on a more frequent basis.
“During this period we were aware of the removal of a number of grit bins from the roadside which we can only assume was to service private car parks and yards.
“People should realise the bins are a community resource to be used for ‘self help’ on pathways and pavements as an enhancement to the service provided by council gritters; they are not there to allow opportunist thieves the chance to make a quick profit.
“I would urge anyone who sees bins being emptied to contact their local police office.”