Thieves stealing highway components are putting lives at risk in Vietnam.

According to the Vietnam Expressway Services Engineering Joint Stock Company (VECE), a total of 116 cases of theft have been recorded on the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway, VN Express reported.

Stolen items include around 1,000 manhole covers, power cables, control wires, crash barriers and even traffic cones.

VECE’s deputy director Nguyen Thi Hoai Phuong said the stolen items are valued at around VND1 billion (US$43,000), with replacement costs even higher.

However, money is not the biggest concern, as the components being stolen pose safety risks to vehicles and travelers.

Crash barriers and traffic cones exist for safety reasons, and power cables being stolen has disrupted lighting in areas such as the Thong Nhat District.

To combat the phenomenon, VECE has reported the case to the authorities and performs independent checks. However, theft numbers continue to increase, with power cables poached at least 12 times in the last two years.

The 55km long expressway first opened to the public in 2015 and took more than VND20.6 trillion (US$883.7 million) to build.