THIEVES who target the electricity network to steal metal are not only risking their own lives but are putting the lives of local residents in danger, police have warned.
In the last two months, thieves have stolen 6,000 metres of overhead electricity lines from across Ribble Valley – including Chatburn, Billington, Ribchester, Bashall Eaves and Chaigley.
An investigation is under way to find out who is responsible. Police patrols have been stepped up and officers have been speaking to residents to encourage them to report anything suspicious as part of Farmwatch – a scheme which allows police to alert farmers to suspicious behaviour or recent crimes, so they can take the necessary precautions to keep their land and property safe.
Residents are being urged to be extra vigilant and contact police immediately if they see anything unusual or if their electricity goes off between midnight and 4 a.m.
Clitheroe Sgt Mick Dixon said: “By cutting into copper wiring, thieves are not only putting themselves at risk but they are risking the lives of residents whose homes are connected to the power supply.
“Any residents who see wiring on the floor in open fields should not go near it but contact police and Electricity North West who operate the local network.
“In the main, offenders have been targeting homes on low voltage electricity supplies. They are climbing the wooden electricity poles and people should be aware they may be wearing high visibility jackets giving the impression they work for Electricity North West.
“We need people who live in the Ribble Valley to alert us immediately if they see anything unusual or suspicious or if they notice their power has gone off between midnight and 4 a.m.”
Jane Fleetwood, response manager for Electricity North West, added: “Our call centre is open 24-hours a day and we can easily confirm if we are carrying out any work in the area. Not only do these thefts cause safety issues but they also cause significant inconvenience to people, and repairs can cost thousands more than the value of the metal taken.”
Anyone with concerns or information can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Anyone who wants to join Farmwatch can contact Community Beat Manager for Clitheroe PC Tony Walsh on 01200 458734.