A FATHER has hit out at metal thieves after his two-year-old son nearly fell down a manhole in his back garden.
Faz Patel, 36, was in the conservatory watching his son Mohammed play outside when he noticed the boy standing on the edge of the manhole.
He rushed outside and saw that the heavy metal manhole cover had been moved, exposing a deep hole below.
The incident was reported to police, who believe that the thieves may have been disturbed in the process of stealing the manhole cover.
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Community worker Faz, who lives in the Pleckgate area of Blackburn, said: “I saw looking him down the manhole.
“It had been moved to the side.
“The garden is meant to be the safest place for him to play.
“He could have been killed.
“There have been a lot of metal thefts in the Pleckgate area recently, I’ve spoken to the neighbourhood police about it.
“They’re going through people’s skips and back gardens.
“Metal thieves are running around everywhere, and they are endangering people’s lives.
“It’s not about the metal, it’s about children’s safety.
“I can buy another manhole cover, but I can’t buy another Mohammed.”
Police are now urging residents to report any vehicles or people they spot acting suspiciously.
A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said: “We had a report that someone was tampering with the manhole cover and that it was loose.
“The offender went into the garden and lifted it up, but it is possible they were disturbed and left.
“We would encourage people in the area to be alert and report anything suspicious to the police.
“Metal theft is an issue Lancashire Police treats seriously and anyone caught stealing metal will be prosecuted.”
Anybody with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.