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Warning as station cable thieves put lives at risk

An investigation has been launched, and the public is being warned of dangers, after thieves break into electricity stations and cut through cables.

Thieves are risking their own lives and other people’s by breaking into electricity stations and cutting through high voltage cables.

Police say there have been break-ins at 30 of the borough’s substations in the past fortnight, with around £15,000 worth of copper cable stolen.

An investigation has been launched by police and Electricity North West to find out who is behind the crime spree.

Substations – which connect the network and control the amount of power that customers receive – were broken into in Accrington, Great Harwood, Rishton, Church and Oswaldtwistle.

There are 797 substations in the borough.

Letters have now been delivered to residents overlooking the sites and police are examining CCTV footage for evidence.

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said anyone who enters a substation is ‘engaging in an act of lunacy’.

Mr Jones added: “It is a serious crime.

“Electricity substations are lethal, people die a very unpleasant death there.

“Going into them also puts the lives of other people at risk. They could cause faults at the station and affect supplies.”

The incident follows similar break-ins this time a year ago when five Hyndburn substations were targeted for cables.

At the time police put the thefts down to a sign of desperation in harsh economic times.

Police said burglars may have been turning up at the substations looking like genuine workers in the past two weeks.

PC Peter Norris said: “It is possible they are arriving at all times of the day and night and are likely to appear genuine, perhaps in vans with high-visibility jackets and trousers.

“We’ve had some reports of people’s power supplies being affected and appeal to  residents to let us know if they experience any problems. People should be extra vigilant and report anything suspicious to us immediately.”

Lee Maxwell, area manager for Electricity North West, said people breaking into the substations are putting themselves and others in great danger.

He added: “It also causes thousands of pounds worth of damage and affects livelihoods and also vulnerable people, including the elderly, who may be left without power.”

Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or Electricity North West on 0800 195 4141.

Two men, aged 22 and 23, have been arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Both have been released on police bail pending further enquiries.

 
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