THIEVES are putting their lives at risk by repeatedly targeting parts of the national grid. EDF Energy Networks, which supplies electricity to the East of England, said there had been several incidents in Huntingdonshire where thieves had disabled crucial
THIEVES are putting their lives at risk by repeatedly targeting parts of the national grid.
EDF Energy Networks, which supplies electricity to the East of England, said there had been several incidents in Huntingdonshire where thieves had disabled crucial systems designed to automatically cut power whenever a fault occurs.
Despite warnings in the summer, the company said it was still recording an unprecedented increase in break-ins and thefts targeting the electrical equipment.
This winter, there have been three incidents in the district in which overhead power lines were deliberately felled, leaving thousands of homes without power.
These happened at Little Paxton on November 13, in Graveley on November 20, and at Offord six days later.
On each occasion, the thieves risked coming into contact with up to 33,000 volts of electricity and left the severed equipment posing a "severe threat to human life".
Company bosses, who said they cannot reveal exactly what equipment was being stolen, are appealing to the public to be vigilant - and to call the police if they see any suspicious activity around overhead power lines.
Alan Feakins, from EDF Energy Networks, said: "Despite our appeals in the summer, the situation has not improved. We are concerned about the threat to electricity supplies and the risk to public safety.
"As much as we invest in further security for our network, we fear it is a matter of time before one of these attacks result in a serious fault on our network - or worse, a death.
"These thieves have displayed persistent and careless disregard for their own lives and place themselves in situations which dice with death.
"We are astounded at the lengths they will go to and we will continue to do all we can to stop them."
EDF Energy Networks is upgrading its security systems and has pledged to prosecute anyone caught tampering with its network.
INFORMATION: Anyone who spots a break-in at a substation or suspicious activity on overhead power lines is urged to call the police or EDF Energy Networks on 0800 096 9960.