A BUSINESSMAN has been left counting the cost after metal thieves carried out a string of attacks on his properties.
Phillip Crossley Lowes estimated his six business premises in Frederick Street, Sunderland, have suffered tens of thousands of pounds in damage.
In recent months, yobs have stolen lead roofing, door covers, metal fixtures and fittings, as well as copper piping.
“The minute you replace the roofing, they come back to steal it again,” he said. “They take anything that is metal. We have lead door covers and canopies and they took those.
“They have taken parts of the shop fronts.
“There was a little bit of copper piping, about 4ft long, and they cut that out, spraying water everywhere.
“The place was like a bomb site.”
In the past four weeks, one property alone in the city centre street has been targeted four times.
“The property is being renovated, so it’s currently empty,” he said. “They break in and take anything they can rip out and carry.
“It’s not just the thefts. It’s the damage that the weather can cause if, say, part of the roof is missing.
“I’ve spent £30,000 on renovating one property, only to have it targeted again almost immediately after the work was completed.
“When a canopy is stolen, it costs between £250 to £300 to replace it.
“We have a £250 excess on our insurance, so most of the time it’s not worth claiming. The premiums just go bananas.”
Mr Crossley Lowes, 57, from Durham City, rents out the two-storey properties as part of his business interests.
“In the past few months, it’s got worse and worse,” he said. “They seem to be coming back again and again and again.
“But it’s not just me who has been affected.
“Most of the people who are based here have been targeted at one time or another.”
George Winter, who owns City Properties Development, Lettings and Management, has had three of his properties hit, including one incident which saw thieves steal part of a shop canopy.
“So far, it has cost us about £1,000, but that is going to rise to about £2,000 once the work has been completed,” said the 54-year-old, from Cleadon.
“This is one of the main routes in and out of the city.
“I know they must be doing it in the middle of the night, but I can’t believe the audacity of these people.”
Northumbria Police are investigating the incidents.