FUMING residents have been forced to lock their bins in cages as thieves keep stealing the giant containers.
Police are hunting for a gang who have swiped at least five giant metal bins worth £2,500 from outside flats in Colchester, Essex.
It is thought the crooks have been nabbing the bins for the scrap metal value, leaving residents reeling.
One witness was shocked to see a man brazenly load a massive bin into his black van in broad daylight on September 7.
The witness managed to take a picture of the suspected thief leaning into the back of his van to seemingly secure his load.
People living in the area have been left in disbelief at the senseless thefts.
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A 78-year-old ex-soldier who lives in Wheeler Close told The Sun Online: "I noticed our bins had gone when I was heading out to a match at my bowls club.
“I thought at first that they must have been taken away for some reason, and I never dreamed they could have been stolen.
“I can’t believe it. People will nick anything these days."
Essex Police only revealed details of the theft on September 7 this week when they released the picture along with an appeal for information from anyone who recognised the man, even though the snap only showed his legs.
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Officers confirmed that a further two bins had also been stolen from neighbouring Wheeler Close and another two from Buffet Way, around 200 yards away.
Plasterer Michael Smith, 33, whose partner and daughter live in a two-bedroom flat in Woodcock Close said: “We have always had big metal bins here.
“I was told that the police had been up here and I noticed that one of the bins was missing.
“I guess they were stolen to be sold for scrap – but it is a bit of a nuisance. Luckily I think the council brought in new bins after a couple of days.”
A mother with a young daughter who also lives in Wheeler Close, added: “It’s incredible that anyone would want to steal bins.
“But I guess anything that is not nailed down is a target these days. With Christmas coming, the last thing we need is not having any bins."
Colchester Borough Council confirmed the stolen bins have been replaced.
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We are appealing for the public's help with identifying the man in this CCTV image, in connection with an ongoing theft investigation.
“Officers were called to Woodcock Close in Colchester at around 3:50pm on September 7 following reports of bins being stolen. Bins were also stolen from properties on Wheeler Close and Buffett Way.
“We are appealing for the public's help to identify the man driving this van, in connection with this incident. We believe he was travelling towards Clacton.
“If you know who he is, or have any further information in connection with this investigation, please contact us.”
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"There are no confirmed suspects and no arrests have been made but enquiries around the vehicle are ongoing.”
Those with information can contact 101 quotingincident42/233853/22 or make an anonymous report to independent charity @CrimestoppersUK, by visiting their website or by calling 0800 555 111.
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