SCRAP metal thieves are targeting drain covers.

More than 200 have been stolen in communities across North Lanarkshire. The worst areas affected are the towns of Motherwell, Bellshill and Wishaw. It has already cost at least £50,000 to replace the covers.

Sandbags and traffic cones are being used to protect pedestrians and motorists while senior councillor James Coyle today warned: "Criminals are targeting the drain covers to sell for scrap, but are leaving behind a catalogue of problems for residents and the council."

Residents who see anyone acting suspiciously are urged to call Police Scotland on 101 and to report missing drains to the council on 01698 403110.