GAS pipes supplying 11 properties near Airdrie town centre were deliberately cut and stolen on Sunday morning, causing a “significant” leak.
Emergency repairs were immediately carried out to remove the danger and restore supplies to the houses on Thrashbush Road and Quadrant, and on Hallcraig Street.
Police are investigating the “chain of thefts” and are keen to speak to a man who was seen in the area and who was carrying a supermarket carrier bag.
The hugely dangerous acts of vandalism, discovered between 7-9am on Sunday, affected six houses on Thrashbush Road and four in adjacent Thrashbush Quadrant.
One resident had begun investigating a problem with the household heating system, and went on to check the meter box and supply.
A Monklands police spokesman said: “It quickly became clear that it had not been an isolated incident and not only had piping been removed, but there was a significant loss of gas into the atmosphere.”
The occupier of premises in Hallcraig Street was met with an identical scenario at 7.45am on Sunday – the supply pipe had been cut between the meter and the building’s entry point, and gas was escaping.
Scottish Gas were immediately contacted and made the necessary emergency repairs to all of the worried householders’ properties within half an hour.
Inspector Jim Borland, of Airdrie police office, described the incidents as “very concerning” and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.
He said: “With any escape of gas, there is a distinct danger of a fire or an explosion, which could cause serious injury and also affect the wider community through loss of supply.
“We are treating these incidents very seriously and following specific lines of enquiry intended to trace the individuals involved.”
Their male suspect is described as thin, 5ft 7in-5ft 11in tall, who was wearing blue jeans, a dark denim or leather jacket and grey tammy, and was carrying a Farmfoods bag.
A spokesman for Scottish Gas Networks said: “We were called to Hallcraig Street just before 9.50am on Sunday.
“Someone reported the smell of gas; we attended straight away to make the situation safe, and the work was completed by 10.50am.
“There were isolated incidents of vandalism to individual meters in Thrashbush Road and Thrashbush Quadrant.
“Again, as soon as we got the call, our workers went out to make the necessary repairs and ensure everything was safe.
“People did the right thing by contacting us; whenever anyone can smell gas, they should give our emergency centre a call and we’ll come out straight away.”
Meanwhile, a Monklands police spokesman added: “A large number of properties were affected and there has been enormous cost to repair the damage and risk to local residents and businesses – but the stolen items will probably only collect a small return at a scrap dealer.”
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Airdrie police office on 01236 505100 or Crimestoppers, free and anonymously, on 0800 555 111.