Theft of rock salt in Somerset is putting lives at risk and robbing rural areas of a vital winter service.
Bags of salt dropped in remote and hilly areas last month by Somerset Highways in anticipation of icy conditions have been stolen.
The Council has reported them to the police, including thefts at Cutcombe, Fitzhead, and Crowcombe.
Cabinet Member for Highways, Cllr Harvey Siggs, said: “I am saddened and furious. I’ve been asking that we tackle winter together and here we are, while the weather is still remarkably mild, talking about some selfish thieves robbing the taxpayer of a vital resource.
“Somerset County Council is encouraging a self-help attitude to dealing with winter weather, not help yourself. I don’t want a repeat of last year when we lost nearly 25 tonnes of salt to thefts when supplies ran low.
“The victims of these crimes will be the motorists stranded alone in the most inhospitable and remote places in Somerset because I can’t guarantee we will be replacing every stolen bag.
“I hope the thieves can live with their consciences if there is an accident and someone is seriously injured or worse. It would be nice to think they would quietly return it.”
Inspector Lisa Simpson from Minehead Police Station, said: “I reiterate the sentiments of Cllr Siggs that by stealing the salt the thief is compromising both the safety of residents and visitors to the area and adding extra strain to the local budget.
“This is a theft and we will deal with those involved robustly.”