POWER chiefs have released video of thieves putting their lives on the line to steal copper wire from an electricity sub station.
The CCTV images show the men dragging several meters of the wiring across the roof of a transmission sub station in Coalburn, South Lanarkshire.
The men seem either completely oblivious or choose to ignore to the 400,000 volts of electricity coursing through the power lines above their heads.
The incident happened in January 2013 and resulted in the prosecution of seven men.
Scottish Power have released the footage as the latest figures show there have been 1,200 similar raids on sub stations in the past year alone.
As well as causing damage and inconvenience to thousands of customers, the thieves risk their own lives for metal worth between 90p and £2.80 a kilo.
A spokesman for Scottish Power said that the men in the video would have been in danger even before they laid their hands on the highly conductible wire.
He said: “You don’t need direct contact with the wire – the electricity can jump. If you are using metal cutting equipment and don’t know what you’re doing it’s incredibly dangerous.
“One wrong move can prove fatal.”
The thefts have cost the energy provider an estimated £18m over the four year period. The figure also includes the damage done to the substations and the cost of extra security.
Jim Scott, Metal Theft and Business Resilience Lead at Scottish Business Resilience Centre, said that the responsibility lay with scrap dealers to turn away offers of stolen copper.
He said: “By ensuring scrap metal dealers no longer accept cash payments, along with measures to record and verify the identity of people selling metal, it will provide greater traceability and curb the potential for criminal behavior.”
Eddie Mulholland, SP Energy Networks District Manager, said: “Metal theft from the electricity network continues to put lives at risk, and threaten the safety of communities. It beggars belief that criminals continue to dice with death for a few pounds worth of scrap metal. What is more concerning is their complete disregard for the power cuts they have caused, and the house fires they have started.”
In 2013 a man died after being electrocuted with over 11,000 volts whilst trying to steal copper wire from the Kelvinburn Pole Mounted Transformer in Shotts.
Peter Court, 43, was an ex boxing champ turned joiner who had survived being electrocuted the year before whilst carrying out building repairs.
50,000 homes in Glasgow lost power supplies for 30 minutes in November 2011 after an attempted theft and in November 2013 tow house fires were caused in Greenock as a result of a power surge after a theft.