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10/08/2012: Metal thieves cause thousands of pounds worth of damage in Lancashire valley

Criminals have caused more than £14,000 worth of damage in the picturesque Ribble Valley, in Lancashire. An engineer from Electricity North West starts to repair the damage caused by metal thieves in Balderstone, Lancashire

Metal thieves stripped 200 meters worth of overhead electrical wire from outside a farm in Balderstone, Blackburn, causing major damage and putting their own lives at risk.

The raid took place during the night on 25th July and Electricity North West provided generators to the farm to restore power the same day. Engineers began the repairs to restore mains electricity to the farm on Tuesday.

The incident is just the most recent case of metal theft in the area as a staggering 11km of electrical cables have been stolen in the Ribble Valley between May and July this year.

“Metal thieves are still badly hitting our region and we need to do all we can to put a stop to it,” said Phil Briggs, Lancashire area response manager for Electricity North West. “We now receive at least one report of metal theft a day across the region and it causes thousands of pounds worth of damage and affects livelihoods and also vulnerable people, including the elderly, who may live on their own.

“These criminals are knowledgeable and know what they are doing, so we are urging people if you do hear or see anything or your electricity goes off in the middle of the night please ring us so we can investigate.”

Engineers believe the thieves dangerously climbed the electricity pole and could even have been wearing high visibility jackets to make them look like official workmen.

Police in Lancashire have joined forces with Electricity North West in a bid to crackdown on metal theft and regular patrols are now in place throughout hotspot areas.

A police spokesperson said; “Metal theft continues to be a growing problem, not just in Lancashire but across the country. Thieves are taking more risks to carry out offences and it is not just the value of the metal that impacts upon the victim but also the disruption it brings and the collateral damage.

“The theft of metal costs individuals and businesses thousands of pounds each year – it is not a victimless crime. Not only that but stealing metal can be dangerous with thieves risking life and limb to steal pipes and cables.

“We will continue to pursue those believed to be involved in the theft of cable and scrap metal and bring them to justice. We also use property marking systems such as Smartwater to make it easier for us to identify stolen metals and arrest responsible.”

Anyone with information should call Electricity North West’s free emergency 24-hour number on 0800 195 4141 or alternatively, call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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