Metal thieves putting lives at risk in Yorkshire

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Northern Powergrid, the electricity distributor for Yorkshire and the North East, says innocent people’s lives are being put at serious risk by thieves targeting overhead power lines across West Yorkshire.

In the last week alone, nine incidents of theft from the electricity network have taken place locally with 40 in total over the last few weeks. The thefts have resulted in approximately 13 kilometres of copper cable being stolen and thousands of properties experiencing disruption to their electricity power supplies as a result.

scrap metal

scrap metal

Last night, thieves damaged overhead lines in East Yorkshire in two incidents near Goole which interrupted electricity supplies to 1019 properties.

In many cases, thieves cutting power lines carrying 11,000 volts have left the cable ends hanging dangerously across public roads and footpaths.

Anyone coming across damage to the electricity power network possibly caused by thieves must not touch any exposed cables, enter open electricity substations or attempt to move dangling cables. Children, pets and livestock must be kept at a safe distance until engineers are able to declare the area safe.

The incidents in West Yorkshire have taken place in:

Swillington, Rothwell, Methley and Oulton areas of Leeds

Garforth and Monk Fryston areas of Leeds

Pontefract, Castleford, Darrington and Wentbridge, Sharlston

Ilkley and Otley (Arthington) areas of Bradford

Denholme, Oakworth areas of Keighley

Hebdon Bridge, Luddenfoot, Ripponden, Sowerby Bridge areas of Calderdale

Dewsbury, Mirfield, Emley, Lepton areas of Kirklees

Northern Powergrid is liaising closely with West Yorkshire Police, and also the other neighbouring Police Forces, and is appealing to anyone who may have seen suspicious activity around the electricity power network to come forward.

Mick Hickling, Head of Network Repairs at Northern Powergrid said: “Once again, thieves are showing complete disregard for people’s safety to steal cable with relatively little financial value. The cost of the repair is not our primary concern. It’s the significant risk to public life that worries us most of all. Our power lines are over public land and cross footpaths and roads, so the potential danger to safety is significant. Our engineers will always respond extremely quickly once they’re made aware of damage to the electricity network to make our equipment safe, but it could be a member of the public who comes across the damage first.

“We appeal to people living and working locally to be alert to any suspicious activity around our power lines and to notify us, the police on 101 or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 immediately. One phone call could save someone’s life.”

Crimestoppers Regional Manager for Yorkshire Gemma Wilson, said: “What these people don’t realise is they are not only putting the community in danger, but also themselves – so don’t let them get away with their actions. Contact Crimestoppers anonymously, safe in the knowledge that nobody will ever know you contacted us.”

* Northern Powergrid suffered more than 600 incidents of theft on the electricity network in the North East and Yorkshire in 2013, averaging 12 incidents a week

* Incidents in 2013 reduced by 45 percent compared to volumes in 2012 as a result of increased engagement with law enforcement agencies, investment in security measures, and the lobbying for change in legislation surrounding the control and handling of scrap metal

* In March 2011, a slip road onto the M62 had to be closed at Rothwell, West Yorkshire when metal thieves caused power lines to fall onto the carriageway.

* In July 2011, metal thieves cut electricity cables in Castleford, possibly causing a gas explosion that wrecked a row of houses in the town.

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