THIEVES have been slammed by a councillor after ripping heating pipes from vulnerable pensioners’ bungalows for the sake of quick cash.
Yobs targeted a communal building and stripped it of its copper piping, leaving the sheltered homes without hot water and central heating.
Residents in George Square, Shotton Colliery, were also woken by “terrible noise” that rang around the estate as the mindless criminals pulled the pipes from walls to sell on as scrap.
Councillor Eunice Huntington, who represents Shotton Colliery on Durham County Council, said she is disgusted by their disregard for elderly peoples’ needs.
Police have also vowed to crack down on the vandals responsible for the damage.
Coun Huntington said: “It is ridiculous how people would treat their area like they have done. We have see a lot of thefts of this kind recently and they are just taking it to cash it in.
“I am disgusted at the lack of respect the people have for the residents of George Square.
“Hopefully there will be something done in the near future to stop this.”
Police are currently investigating the crime, which took place over a number of nights last week.
There had been a widespread rise in thefts of metal at the beginning of the year as criminals took advantage of high scrap values.
To combat the spate of crime, Operation Tornado was launched to make it harder for the crooks stealing everything from manhole covers to lead off roofs. The scheme makes anyone selling scrap metal provide photographic proof of identity.
Following a successful pilot in the North East, which has seen metal theft reduce by 34 per cent, it is being rolled out across the UK.
Police say they are frustrated by the latest outbreak and have vowed to do all they can to find those responsible.
A Durham Constabulary spokeswoman said: “We know that these thefts are going on and we are doing everything we can.
“An investigation is under way and we will strive to make sure that things like this are cut out as quickly as possible.”
Anyone with information about the thefts should ring Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.