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Surge in Dangerous Activity on the Electricity Network in Ayrshire


ScottishPower Asks Residents for Help to Catch Those Responsible

ScottishPower engineers are becoming increasingly alarmed at a sharp rise in dangerous activity on the electricity network in Ayrshire. As well as a major increase in theft of copper from electricity poles and substations, a recent act of vandalism in a substation resulted in an explosion that could have had fatal consequences. The company fears that it is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs.

Since the end of January, eight thefts have been recorded on electricity equipment in Ayrshire, with the majority of incidents occurring in the Cumnock area. The most dangerous incident happened on Saturday 5th March at a substation in Kilwinning. Criminals forced their way into the building and used bricks to smash equipment which caused an electrical flashover and extensive damage. It is not known if this was a failed attempt at robbery or malicious vandalism.

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 or scale overhead power lines to steal 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.

Guy Jefferson, Network Operations Director at ScottishPower, said: “The surge in dangerous activity in Ayrshire is a major concern for ScottishPower. Looking at the damage to some of our equipment, we believe that the thieves only have a very limited knowledge about what they are doing. They are showing staggering disregard for their own safety, the safety of the public, and that of our employees.

“It is important that 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.

“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 Strathclyde Police, but we would also like to ask any concerned residents who may have information to get in touch. Our confidential hotline 0800 027 1950 is open 24 hours a day.”

Media Information: Paul Ferguson, 0141 566 4515 / 07702 665 924