‘You could have blown up the whole street for £10!’
That was Chorley mum Pam Martin’s verdict after her street was turned into a ticking time bomb after thieves stole a five-metre strip of copper piping worth a tenner.
The pipe supplies gas to her house in Eaves Lane and the 57-year-old only realised there was a problem when she woke up and found her heating and cooker wouldn’t work.
Luckily she didn’t flick any switches or light a match before a relative smelt gas and raised the alarm.
It was then she realised thieves had wrenched a copper pipe off an exterior wall and left gas pouring out of the hole in the side of the property.
“I feel absolutely awful,” she said. “I dread to think what would have happened if the gas had leaked in to the house.
“My son could have had two funerals to organise.
“You hear of copper getting pinched, but not this. I feel lucky to be alive.
“What would have happened if we’d been on holiday and not realised straight away?
“If our house would have blown up, then so would our neighbour’s.”
Mrs Martin said the first sign that something was wrong was when she woke up on Tuesday and realised the heating was off.
“It was cold so I phoned British Gas,” she said. “The cooker wouldn’t work either.
“Then my sister called round and she was with her 18-month-old daughter. She said she could smell gas outside.
“I phoned the National Grid and they arrived within 15 minutes.
“The engineer noticed what had happened straight away. The pipe that supplies our gas and goes under our stairs to the outside had been wrenched off the side of the building.
“He said the thieves probably would have only got £10 for it in scrap. They risked our lives for that.
“People need to be aware. We don’t know how much the repair bill will be or how much gas was lost. I went to bed that night wondering if we’d wake up again.”
The pipe has now been replaced and covered with a substance called Smart Water to deter thieves.
Jeanette Unsworth, of the National Grid, said: “We are concerned about incidents of this kind. There has been an escalation in the theft of copper pipe over recent months, due to its high scrap value.
“We would warn people against tampering with gas pipes as there are risks involved. National Grid manages the National Gas Emergency Service freephone line 0800 111 999 and we would encourage people who smell gas to ring this number.
“It doesn’t matter whether they smell gas in the street or at home. We would encourage them to report it so we can act swiftly to stop escapes.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary confirmed an investigation had been launched.