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Police think they've lifted the lid on a gang of scrap metal thieves - after arresting a woman with an astonishing 25 manhole covers in the boot of her car.

Traffic officers in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, stopped Lenka Liskova, 36, when they saw her staggering with one of the covers in her arms.

"She told us she'd dropped an earring down the drain and was trying to get to it.

"But we looked at her car and the back end was so heavy it was almost touching the ground," said police spokesman Regina Tupa.

Inside they found a huge stack of cast-iron manhole covers ready to be sold on for their scrap metal price.

"We’d been having reports for a while from varies villages and towns in the region about disappearing manhole covers.

"At first we thought it might just be a coincidence, but as more and more disappeared we began to suspect something more sinister was going on," Tupa said.

"Luckily no one was injured by falling down any of the manholes," she added.

"It's a very significant arrest because she is clearly a major supplier in the chain," said local prosecutors.

The woman now faces five years in jail.

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