Thieves target hedging, traffic lights in Co. Cork

Some criminals will nick anything that’s not nailed down, but eyebrows have been raised about why they would want to steal 90m of semi-mature hedging which was planted as part of a road realignment project.

Cork County Council officials have also reported an alarming development in the theft of temporary traffic lights.

The council put down the hedging two years ago as part of a €3m road realignment project at Twopothouse, between Mallow and Doneraile.

Officials were astonished to discover earlier this week that it had been all dug up and taken away.

They believe the theft took place at night and that a number of people and vehicles had to have been involved.

They were to report the matter to gardaí yesterday.

Meanwhile, local authority engineers said they were worried about a new phenomena which could have serious safety implications for motorists.

“People are stealing temporary traffic lights which are placed at roadworks,” said a council official.

Sometimes they steal the lights and the batteries and other times just the batteries which obviously renders the lights ineffective.

“Either way this is a very dangerous thing to do because it could lead to a serious accident.”

Criminals are continuing to steal road signs for their scrap metal value, although not as many signs went missing last year compared to the height of the recession.

In 2011, around 50 cast iron road and heritage signs were stolen in the Kinsale area and a bigger number of signs also disappeared in Glounthaune, Knockraha, and Glanmire — with fatal consequences there.

Thieves stole a number of chevron warning signs erected at a junction close to the motorway just north of Glanmire as a safety measure.

Hours after they were stolen, a young man died when he crashed his car there and both gardaí and council officials believe the tragedy was as a direct result of the warning signs being removed.

The theft of signs was so bad at one stage that council officials discussed micro-chipping metal signs or even replacing them with cheaper plastic versions.

Thieves have also over the years targeted signs for villages, many of which have ended up in bars in Britain and America.

In some areas, the problem because so acute that strangers were driving in circles for miles before they were eventually able to find their destination.


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