Ghouls visiting the scene of killer gunman Raoul Moat's last stand have been blamed for putting villagers' lives in danger.
Gawkers at the riverside spot in Rothbury, Northumberland, have repeatedly left open a metal flap at the front of a culvert where the murderer is thought to have hidden during his final days after going on the run from Northumbria Police.
Environment Agency officials said the solid steel barrier, at the front of the Coplish Burn, was a vital part of the village's flood defences.
If the flap was left open during a flood, 28 businesses and eight residential properties would be deluged.
Rothbury was hit by severe flooding in September 2008 and in July last year when the River Coquet burst its banks, submerging bridges and a children's play park.
Steven Bridgett, Northumberland County councillor for the village, said he had seen people climbing inside the culvert to pose for photographs.
Mr Bridgett, who is a flood warden for the village, said: "The culvert lid is there to stop the village being flooded. The storm drain pumps storm water from one of the burns which runs down from the hill underneath the village and into the river.
"If the river floods and the lid is open then the flow of water is reversed and directed into the centre of the village, which is very bad news.
"We have had severe problems with flooding in the past and do not want a repeat."