Copper thieves cause flood at Earlham House

08:18 16 October 2012

Rice and Spice

Rice and Spice's Iftekhar Alam with his mop and ruined flyers in his Earlham House takeaway that took two hours to clear up after water leaked into his and neighbouring businesses when copper pipes were stolen. Photo: Steve Adams

Three businesses at Earlham House are counting the cost after being flooded when thieves tried to steal copper pipes.

Intruders broke into empty flats being renovated above the shopping arcade, wrenching a pipe off the wall and sending water flooding into the businesses below in the early hours of Monday morning.

They made off with a short length of copper piping and £300 of plastic pipework.

The flood is the latest blow for businesses already hampered by lack of passing trade and parking during the construction works.

Martin Baker, who owns the post office, arrived to find half of his shop floor covered in water and a computer out of use because of water damage.

“It was still dripping when I got in this morning, but it was the last remnants,” he said.

“The workers had got in before and switched off the water. They’ve been good, and helped us to soak up the water.”

Mr Baker, who has run the post office for the past 26 years, said trade had already been slow because of the double impact of the recession and the renovations.

“We’re on the receiving end of this vandalism. It just seems so pathetic. I just can’t get my head around it. Really – why?”

The Scope charity shop next door also suffered flooding, and was closed yesterday as staff dealt with the clear-up.

Takeaway owner Iftekhar Alam said 10,000 menus, worth £350, had been damaged and that large parts of his ceiling would need to be replastered because of water damage.

“I had to mop it up this morning, and there was a lot of damage with the plastering coming off,” he said.

“There’s also damage to the wooden floor – it’s about £1,000 of damage I would say.”

Graham Snowley, contracts manager for Hackwood Homes, called the vandalism “completely mindless.”

He said: “We’re as much a victim here as the businesses.

“Whoever it was broke the pipe off without realising it’s a live water main, and overnight the main has been running.

“The pipe they tried to steal had no real value for scrap, but the damage they’ve done to the businesses below could run into thousands of pounds.”

He said his teams had helped with the clear-up and the company planned to step up security following the break-in.

Mr Snowley said the external doors, secured by swipecard, were sometimes left open by residents, and that the intruders then forced their way into the flats upstairs.

A police spokesman said the Norwich South Safer Neighbourhood Team were investigating the break-in.

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