A total of 16 drain gullies have been pinched in the space of three days.

Thurrock Council say it is creating, dangerous conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and road users.

Councillor Brian Little, responsible for highways, said: “On or around the February 7, five covers were stolen along with nine more being taken two days later and two more on Friday, February 9.

“This reckless behaviour is putting the safety of road-users at risk and is completely unacceptable.”

16 known covers have been stolen although more could have been taken which are yet to be discovered.

Areas affected include: Stifford Clays, South Ockendon, Orsett and East Tilbury.

Mr Little added: “We are requesting Thurrock residents stay vigilant and let us know if you see any others missing.

“This theft will obviously have a financial impact.

“We have made the ones we are aware of safe – and are in contact with Essex Police.”

To report a missing cover– or any other highways defect, please visit: thurrock.gov.uk/report