Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for keeping the lights on for 3.9 million homes and businesses across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, is offering a reward after metal thieves targeted Pontefract's power network.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning (23 January 2017) two wooden poles, carrying 11,000 volt power lines, were cut at their base causing a power cut to nearly 2,000 customers in the Pontefract area.
The electricity distributor was able to successfully restore power to more than 1,200 customers within 10 minutes by diverting power through alternative routes whilst engineers we're travelling to the scene. Another 786 were restored by 2:40am, with the remaining few customers back on at 9:16am.
Teams from Northern Powergrid assessed the damage caused by the vandalism. The repair work, which required an interruption to a small number of customers' supplies so engineers could work safely, took place the following night. The timing of the work was arranged to minimise disruption to those customers, including Network Rail, affected.
Ian Holmes, Vulnerable Assets Manager for Northern Powergrid, said: "The thieves who targeted our network are reckless and showed complete disregard for the danger they put themselves, the public and our engineers in. The thieves realised, once the network had been grounded, that the power lines were not copper, and abandoned the scene leaving our power lines on the ground.
"On this occasion our engineers were able to restore power to the majority of our customer very quickly and, by working in partnership with Network Rail, we were able to coordinate the timing of the repairs so it would not disrupt rail services or passengers."
“We're encouraging anyone who saw any suspicious activity in the South Kirkby area in the early hours of Tuesday night or has any information about the thieves to call 105 the emergency power cut number, the police on 101 or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. A reward of up to £1,000 is being offered for information, provided to Crimestoppers, which leads to an arrest and charge.”
Roger Critchell, Director of Operations for Crimestoppers, said: “Incidents such as these are often seen as victimless, but they are not. We've seen a community temporarily left without essential power supplies, which can have a significant effect on their home or their business.
“I’d ask anyone who has any information, to please contact our charity. We will never ask any of your personal details. We won’t judge. Just listen to what you know. And pass it on for you. You will remain 100% Anonymous. Always.”