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29/04/13: New technology helps to crack down on dangerous metal theft

Thieves targeting substations across Lancashire to steal metal will be caught thanks to new state-of-the-art technology.

Electricity North West, the company that owns and maintains the regional power network, has introduced new hidden tracking devices in substations as part of a trial to crack down on the costly crime.

The innovative trial, which started earlier this year, has already led to the successful arrest of one thief who was caught within minutes of breaking into a substation in Accrington in February.

Graham Partington pleaded guilty to metal theft at Blackburn Magistrates Court on 2nd April 2013 and he received a £150 fine, £85 costs and £20 victim surcharge.

Steve Cox, future network manager for Electricity North West, said: “This arrest highlights the important role our new tracking devices will increasingly play in the battle to stop metal theft in our region once and for all.

“We have dealt with more than 300 metal theft crimes on the electricity network in Lancashire in the past year, so this new technology is essential to ensure thieves are caught and to also act as a warning to others that you will be caught if you break into our substations.

“Thieves are not only putting themselves and others in great danger, but it causes thousands of pounds worth of damage and affects the lives of thousands of customers fed from our substations including vulnerable members of our communities, who may be left without power.”

The new device is hidden on substation equipment and if removed or tampered with an alarm is triggered. The device enables police to track the device leading them to both the stolen goods and the thief.

PC Peter Norris from the Lancashire Constabulary, said: “We were delighted to get involved in this initiative after we noted a spike in the number of metal thefts in the area. This initiative will increase monitoring and surveillance by utilising advanced monitoring equipment.

“It has been a great success so far and we hope that it continues to cut down the number of metal theft incidents in the area. Information from members of the public is also still needed so we urge people to tell us if they have any details regarding metal thefts so we can catch many more offenders.”

Anyone with information should call Electricity North West’s free emergency 24-hour number on 0800 195 4141, the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.

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