Neighbours had to be evacuated from their homes after the bungalow in Leonard’s Road, Leverington, Cambridgeshire, was reduced to rubble by the explosion at around 1am on Monday morning.
The bungalow is owned by Roddons Housing Association – part of Circle – and was under renovation when thieves are thought to have broken in over the weekend and cut away at the copper piping.
Initial investigations show that the theft caused a small gas leak which later led to the explosion which destroyed most of the property.
Inspector Robin Sissons, Cambridgeshire Police, said: ‘This incident shows how dangerous stealing copper pipes from homes can be.
‘This caused an explosion which obliterated the house and it is only sheer luck that the offenders responsible, or the people living nearby, were not killed or seriously injured in the blast.
‘I would also urge people who have properties under renovation to shut off their gas supply when the home is unoccupied.’