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09/02/2011: Warning after electricity chainsaw attack

The region’s electricity network operator has warned of the dangers of theft and vandalism on the electricity network after thieves used a chainsaw to cut down a pole carrying a live line.

The incident in Bolton last month saw thieves risking their lives cutting the pole, which was carrying a high voltage 11,000v wire, and causing more than 1,300 customers to lose power.

New figures released today show that this theft was one of 67 on the North West’s network last month, making it the worst month for crime on the network in the past year.

Electricity North West Operations Director, Greg Fernie, said: “These figures are absolutely shocking. In the past month we have had an average of more than two crimes on the network every single day.

“The extreme stupidity of criminals trying to steal live electricity cables, and using a chainsaw to cut down a pole carrying a live wire, beggars belief. They are risking their lives for a few pounds worth of metal and causing misery for huge numbers of customers across the region.

“Innocent members of the public can also be put at risk if they come into contact with the damaged equipment after the thieves have departed. Electricity can travel through the ground so people don’t have to actually touch the wires to receive a shock.”

85% of the crimes happened within Greater Manchester, with the remainder spread across the rest of Electricity North West’s network which covers Cumbria and Lancashire, and parts of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Merseyside.

Electricity North West reports all crimes on its network to the police. Anyone who has any information about theft or vandalism should call CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

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