A SPATE of gas meter thefts in Bacup have been slammed as ‘dangerous and stupid’ by police in Rossendale.

They dealt with three separate incidents in the town in the space of a week.

In one case the thieves risked triggering an explosion by leaving a mains gas supply running after entering a house in Ashworth Street.

Officers investigating the incidents said they believe the meters are being stolen to allow the thieves to steal gas by reconnecting the meters in properties which have been disconnected by utility companies. They are also thought to be temporarily swapping the stolen meters with their own and switching them back prior to a reading taking place.

Inspector John Fryer from Lancashire Police said: “This is an incredibly dangerous and stupid crime.

“Innocent families are being put at risk by the thieves, who could also endanger their own families and neighbours should they install a stolen meter. Gas meters should only be installed by qualified engineers.

“This activity could cause a fire or an explosion and injure innocent people.”

He said an unoccupied terrace house in Stanley Mount was targeted on November 21 or 22 when thieves entered through the back yard and stole the gas meter from an outside cabinet. The second theft took place in Cowgill Street between November 25 and November 28 when another outside meter was taken in a similar fashion.

The third and most serious theft happened in Ashworth Street on November 27 when the culprits left the mains gas supply turned on for more than an hour while the occupants were out, filling the property with gas.

Inspector Fryer said the meters were of little scrap value and that anyone with any information regarding the thefts should contact Lancashire Police on 101.