Police are working in partnership with Scottish Power Energy Networks as part of a crackdown on metal theft at electricity substations across Cheshire.
Over the past 12 months Cheshire Constabulary has seen a substantial increase in the number of incidents of metal thefts at electricity substations, with a total of 109 incidents so far in in 2016, compared to a total 39 in 2015.
The incidents that have occurred so far this year have taken place at substations in residential areas across the northern and western areas of the county; including Widnes, Runcorn, Ellesmere Port, Warrington and Kelsall.
Unauthorised access to substations can often result in power loss to communities, cause fires and result in serious electric shocks to those responsible. Unsecure substations can also be extremely dangerous to children who may be playing nearby and risk serious injury or loss of life if they enter.
Chief Inspector Richard Rees from Cheshire Police said: “Criminals who commit metal theft not only risk their own lives, but also the lives of in innocent members of the public. They also put at risk the lives of members of the emergency services who are left to deal with the repercussions of such crimes.
“Metal theft from electricity substations also has a major impact on our local communities, not only can they result in power cuts, but in the long term it also leads to increased utility bills for innocent members of the public.”
As part of the crackdown Scottish Power Energy Networks is now offering a £10,000 for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.
Stephen Stewart, Scottish Power Energy Networks Director, said: “This is not a victimless crime and there’s a serious threat to the public as a result. Unsecure substations can be extremely dangerous to anyone who enters them. These substations are in residential areas and those behind these thefts clearly don’t care about the consequences. Our biggest fear is that children out playing wander in.
“Metal theft is also one of the biggest threats to the safety of the electricity network, and the impact of these crimes can be devastating.
“As well as major power cuts that have inconvenienced thousands of families, we have experienced house fires and damaged electrical appliances in homes following haphazard thefts of our cables.
“Unfortunately it seems like the thieves don’t care about the risk to their own lives, and they certainly show no regard for the safety of neighbouring properties.”
Chief Inspector Richard Rees added: “Information from the public is vital and I urge anyone with any information in relation to metal theft and thefts from substations to contact Cheshire Police on 101.
“Not only could you be rewarded with £10,000 if the information you provide leads to a conviction, but you can also help to ensure the people responsible are brought to justice.”
Information can also be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.