A crackdown on boiler thefts in Sheffield has seen a 70 per cent reduction over the last two years.
In 2013, Sheffield Council reported the theft of 209 central heating boiler systems from its properties, costing £287,000 to replace.
But last year the figure dropped to 68, with sting operations at specially rigged up flats hailed as one of the reasons for the reduction.
The flats are set up with hidden cameras and trackers to trace those responsible for break-ins and thefts.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Boiler thefts have been a significant problem and cost to the council.
“We’ve worked hard with the police and local communities to deter them. “All boilers are now traceable and anyone found stealing, handling or fitting a stolen boiler will be reported to the police. “The reduction in thefts means more money can be spent people’s homes rather than replacing stolen goods.
“We will continue to work closely together to continue to combat boiler theft.” Dene Tinker, South Yorkshire Police’s crime reduction officer, said: “Anyone entering one of the trap flats will not have known the equipment is there and that police have already been alerted and are responding. “Offenders and handlers talk and the word soon gets around so it’s hoped the use of the trap flats will act as a deterrent to prolific criminals. “There are serious safety implications whenever anyone removes a boiler under these circumstances, especially for the neighbouring properties and if it is illegally installed elsewhere.”
It is thought some boilers are sold off fas scrap metal, while others may have been installed elsewhere. Anyone found fitting stolen boilers will be investigated by South Yorkshire Police and reported to Gas Safe officials.
The Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on gas appliances in the UK. Anyone with information about boiler thefts should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.