POWER cables worth thousands of pounds have been stolen in a spate of thefts over two weeks as thieves ‘dice with death’.
Uttoxeter police have had four power cable thefts reported to them in the last week, as well as three further incidents within two days the previous week in Abbots Bromley.
Sergeant Ian Cantrill said the first occurred in Netherland Green, between Marchington and Uttoxeter, between 9pm on February 29 and 6am on March 1.
The next reported incident was in Hanbury between 1am and 3am on February 29, when 300 metres of cable, worth £2,000, was stolen from a farmer’s field.
The third theft happened at Toby’s Hill in Draycott-inthe- Clay between midnight and 7am on March 5, when 500 metres of cable, worth between £3,000 and £4,000, was stolen.
There was also an attempted theft of cables in Hanbury between midnight and 8am on February 27. The lines were cut down but were not taken when they were found to be aluminum.
The thefts are all being linked to the same gang.
The cables belong to Western Power Distribution and the incidents have left some people without power for as long as a day.
Sergeant Cantrill said: “We are in talks with Western Power about putting measures in place to catch people committing the offences.
“Anyone who sees suspicious activity is asked to report it to police straight away.
“If the thieves cut the wrong wire, they could be seriously injured.
“We are increasing patrols in these areas and we will be stopping any suspicious vehicles.” A Western Power Distribution spokesman said: “Metal theft is a nationwide problem but it has escalated in the last few years and is currently costing us around £1 million a year to put right.
“It affects our substations but even overhead lines have become targets, which is hard to believe when you consider the extremely high voltages involved.
“It’s lethal and the thieves are dicing with death for very small reward.
“They’re also putting at risk the lives of our engineers who have to repair and replace infrastructure which may have been left in an unsafe condition.
“Similarly, other innocent people could become victims.
“It’s also incredibly inconvenient for our customers, especially those who rely on electricity for things like dialysis machines, as often when thefts occur, power supplies are disrupted.
“We’re stepping up our security with CCTV, anti-vandal paint, Smart water and intruder alarms, and we’re working closely with the police at a local and national level.
“Prosecutions have taken place and have led to prison sentences.
“We will always prosecute.
“We’ve also used a range of media including television, radio and newspapers to deal pro-actively with this issue, as well as Crimestoppers.
“We are currently compiling an identification booklet of all our cables to be distributed to police and scrap metal dealers across all our operational regions.
“The public can help us too. If people see any suspicious activity at our substations, including unmarked vans or trucks appearing at unusual hours, they should alert the police.” Anyone with information is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.