Theft of metal equipment from the electricity distribution network is a growing crime, with it now particularly affecting rural areas and rural communities.Â In many incidents, it causes power to be lost for several hours until our engineers are able to complete their repairs, but in this time, older and vulnerable people can be left distressed and businesses relying on electricity unable to function. Last year, tens of thousands of our customers experienced disruption to their electricity supplies due to criminal damage to the electricity distribution network.
Northern Powergrid and Crimestoppers are asking for your help in protecting our rural communities from this anti-social and dangerous crime.
Looking outside you will usually spot our electricity network â€“ our overhead power lines throughout the North East, Yorkshire and north Lincolnshire stretch for 29,000 kilometres and we have twice the distance again underground.
Damage caused can be incredibly dangerous.
But it is our network above ground that is mostly targeted by the thieves, usually in quiet rural areas where they hope to be able to carry out their illegal activities undisturbed. If you spot any suspicious behaviour around the electricity power network, please report it immediately.
We all depend on electricity to carry out our normal daily activities and thieves stealing cables can cause the power to be interrupted or perhaps dip. Northern Powergrid works hard to ensure the constant and safe supply of electricity and if the thieves do cause deliberate damage, our staff will always respond as quickly as possible to restore supplies. In the meantime though, the loss of power can cause great alarm and distress. Recently, we had a dairy farm unable to operate machinery to milk its cattle, while peopleâ€™s domestic appliances and equipment, such as TVs and boilers, have been damaged by power fluctuations caused by power cables being damaged by thieves.
An example of the damage metal thieves can leave in a community.
It is not just the disruption to power supplies caused by the thieves that we are fighting against. Above all, we are concerned someone could easily die or be seriously injured. Metal thieves interfering with overhead cabling not only risk their own lives from electrocution, and also the lives of innocent people who might inadvertently come into contact with the damaged cables left hanging on or close to the ground. It is common for cut power cables, which would normally be high above ground and out of harmâ€™s way, to be left by thieves dangling across roadways and tracks and across public footpaths.
Clearly, the thieves do not care that their actions might cause someone serious harm. Remember, these cables can be carrying thousands of volts.
We know metal thieves usually identify opportunities in advance and it is likely they will be seen looking at electricity assets beforehand, using unmarked vehicles or even seen climbing power lines or using torches at night.Â Please keep your eyes open for anyone acting suspiciously around electricity assets such as power lines and wooden poles, trespassing on private land to look at our equipment, or even entering land with vehicles in an uncontrolled manner causing land damage.
Be our â€œeyes and earsâ€ in the rural community when Northern Powergrid cannot always be there watching out. Call the police on 101, Northern Powergrid on 0800 375 675 in Yorkshire or 0800 66 88 77 in the North East, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 where a Â£1000 reward may be offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.