Appeal after substation thefts
February 20, 2013, 3:19 pm
Police are warning thieves of the danger of stealing from electricity substations.
On February 11, police received information that copper cable had been stolen from substations at Raby Street in Byker, Mariner’s Wharf at the Quayside and Durham Road in Gateshead.
On February 15, thefts took place at substations at High Street East at Wallsend and Benton Park Road in Longbenton.
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The thefts have often meant residents in the surrounding areas have been left without power, causing significant frustration for residents and cost to power suppliers.
In addition, when components are cut away from the substation it has potential to cause electrical appliances to catch fire, putting homes in danger, and thieves at risk of electrocution.
It’s believed in some of the above crimes vehicles may have been used to transport the stolen cable.
Newcastle East Neighbourhood Inspector Louise Cass-Williams said: “Over the past week we’ve received a number of calls relating to thefts from substations and we’re keeping an open mind about whether these offences are linked.
“The thefts cause frustration for residents through power cuts and also puts them in danger of potential fires, while the thieves themselves are putting their lives at risk by cutting through live cables.
“Who ever is committing these offences faces a potential prison sentence for their actions and while they may see it as a simple theft they are ultimately putting both their own and the lives of other people at risk.”
Police are also appealing for witnesses to the thefts.
Insp Cass-Williams added: “We’re carrying out extensive enquiries to trace the people involved in the thefts, and would urge anyone who sees suspicious activity around substations to get in touch with police as soon as possible.
“This could include any unmarked vehicles or suspicious people, if in any doubt contact police so we can make enquiries.”
Nigel Walker, Northern Powergrid’s Vulnerable Assets Manager said: “These attacks on our substations not only caused significant damage that our engineers had to put right, but in two cases left our customers without power for the majority of the day.
“Many of these people were elderly or had young children to care for and sitting through the day with no lighting or heating can be quite a frightening experience. I would like to reassure our customers that our engineers worked extremely hard to get supplies back on as quickly as possible.
“Our customer support van was also dispatched to check on people and offer hot refreshments until we were able to get power restored.
“These thieves are reckless and not only are they endangering their own lives by breaking into substations and tampering with live cables carrying thousands of volts, theyre risking the lives of innocent people by leaving these substations insecure until the emergency services or our engineers arrive on scene.
“They also cause substantial disruption to peoples power supplies. We would ask that any of our customers with information should contact the police, us or Crimestoppers as soon as possible.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 ext 69191, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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