ScottishPower fears that it is only a matter time before a fatal accident occurs in Liverpool following a recent spate of dangerous raids on electricity substations across the City by irresponsible copper thieves.
Since beginning of December 2010, more than 54 substation break-ins have been reported in the Liverpool area. The reckless nature of the thefts has led to ScottishPower offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of individuals involved in the thefts, or those handling the stolen copper.
Metal theft is on the rise across Britain, and energy companies and other industries are working with the authorities to track down the gangs and individuals responsible. Thieves typically force their way into substations to plunder small amounts of copper, which is then sold on as scrap. These desperate actions not only jeopardise the reliability of electricity supplies, but increasingly put lives at risk.
Electricity substations are vital pieces of equipment that ensure homes and businesses have a safe and secure supply of electricity. A live substation can have as much as 400,000 volts of electricity circulating through the equipment inside. Any contact with such high voltages could have fatal consequences.
The callous thieves have been leaving the damaged substations unsecured, meaning that children and other passers-by can be exposed to the dangerous live electricity. ScottishPower engineers are then also faced with unnecessary dangers when they are called out to carry out repairs and secure the buildings.
Frank Mitchell, director of ScottishPower Energy Networks, said: “The nature of the recent thefts in Liverpool leads us to believe that the criminals involved only have a very limited knowledge about the way substations work and how dangerous this equipment is. They are showing staggering disregard for their own safety, the safety of the public, and that of our employees.
“It is important all our equipment is in service so we can maintain a good quality of electricity supply to all of our customers who depend on our service. These dangerous acts not only have the potential to cause serious injury but could also result in widespread loss of electricity supply to homes and businesses in the Liverpool area.
“It quite simply beggars belief that anyone would put their life on the line by interfering with thousands of volts of electricity to steal small amounts of copper with a minimal scrap value. If the gangs persist with this reckless behaviour it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.
“We are working closely with Merseyside Police, but we would also like to ask any concerned residents who may have information to get in touch. ScottishPower is willing to pay a reward to anyone who provides credible information to help us bring charges against those involved with the thefts in Liverpool. Our confidential hotline on 0800 027 1950 is open 24 hours a day.”