Lives endangered by increasing dry riser valve thefts in Royal Greenwich

Two photos side by side. The photo on the left shows a dry riser pipe which is missing the copper valve as it has been stolen. The photo on the right shows a dry riser complete with the copper valve attached.
Wednesday 12 June 2024

The Royal Borough of Greenwich is asking for the public’s help to prevent and report dry riser valve and pipe thefts which could endanger lives.

Dry risers are vertical water mains usually fitted into staircases of high-rise buildings, giving each floor access to a water supply. This means that if there’s a fire, firefighters can attach their hose to the water supply to extinguish the fire.

There has been a recent increase in these thefts, with thieves selling the copper or brass valves and pipes as scrap metal.

When just one dry riser valve or pipe is stolen or vandalised, the entire system fails, so the fire brigade could be hindered putting a fire out. This endangers the lives of the block’s residents and would cause severe damage to the building.

It’s important that residents take this issue seriously and report any suspicious activity in their block.

To help prevent dry riser valve and pipe theft:

  • Familiarise yourself with the location of dry risers in your building and make sure doors leading to the area are closed.
  • Keep an eye out for people you don’t recognise entering your block, particularly when they try to access areas where you know the dry risers are. If in doubt, ask for their identification.
  • If you encounter someone selling dry riser valves, check the item for a marking and note down the person’s vehicle registration number.
  • Landlords and building management should consider marking and registering the valves, making resale harder for the thief.
  • If you suspect a theft has taken place, contact your landlord or building manager to inform them.
  • Report any thefts by calling 999 while it is occurring or 101 if you find dry riser valves and connected pipes have been stolen.
  • You can also report any concerns to the London Fire Brigade switchboard by calling 020 8555 1200 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm) or by visiting