Criminals escape risk of 11,000-volt death

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RECKLESS criminals risked electrocuting themselves and sparked a power cut in Scarborough after bringing down an 11,000-volt electricity pole.

Police said yesterday that they believe the perpetrators were attempting to steal metal wiring, including copper, and were unaware of the dangers of the massive electrical current running through the pole.

More than 630 homes lost power. Residents described seeing a huge lightning flash after the pole was torn down at 9.23pm on Wednesday. It is located in Mere Lane below Oliver’s Mount, adjacent to the railway track, not far from the A64 Seamer Road park-and-ride site.

It is believed that the thieves used a chainsaw to get halfway through the pole before tying ropes or chains around it and dragging it over using a vehicle.

Their stupidity caused damage worth in excess of £10,000. It left 637 homes in the vicinity of the incident without electricity.

Power was restored to 249 homes by 10pm and a further 357 homes had their electricity supply working by 10.50pm.

However 31 households were left in the dark until 5am yesterday morning, after a emergency generator had to be sourced.

PC Tom Wilkinson attended the scene of the crime this morning.

He said: “The only thing we can think is that they’ve been trying to steal the wiring.

“There’s 11,000 volts running through the thing and there’s been a massive flash. I spoke to some witnesses who said it was like a strike of lightning that lit up the sky.

“It seems like they’ve been playing a very risky game. It looks like they haven’t got away with anything - except for their lives.

“It is absolute lunacy to try and do something like that.”

A JCB vehicle and workmen were making the scene safe yesterday on behalf of CE Electric UK, the company that owns and operates the electricity pole.

Speaking about the attempted theft yesterday, Paul Norton, the company’s head of safety, said CE Electric UK are working closely with police to make sure the criminals are caught.

Mr Norton said: “They are lucky to get away, seemingly without injury. In the past three years, we have seen people lose their lives and many more receive horrific electrical burn injuries after trying to steal cables, power lines and other components from our network.

“We are asking local residents and especially parents to be vigilant of any suspicious behaviour and to contact the police immediately.”

He added: “Our message to metal thieves is simple - try to steal our metal and you risk your life. The thieves are also leaving sites in an unsafe, sometimes dangerous condition for any members of the public who may be in the vicinity.”

The incident is the latest in a spate of metal thefts in Scarborough. In November last year, a man was jailed for six months following the theft of copper piping from a building site in the town centre.

To report an incident, CE Electric can be reached on their contact emergency number, which is 0800 668877. In the first instance the police should be contacted.

If you have any information on Wednesday night’s attempted theft at the Mere, contact PC Scott Anderson at Scarborough Police Station on 0845 6060247, quoting reference number 12110042095.