A NEW hard-hitting advertising campaign has been launched to combat potentially deadly metal thefts from electricity substations in the Capital.
ScottishPower has recorded a total of 67 individual attacks on substations since January 2011.
And today the company warned of the potentially lethal effects of “mindless criminal activity” in and around its substations and power lines.
As part of the campaign, ScottishPower is also offering rewards of up to £10,000 to any member of the public who can provide information leading to a conviction of criminals involved in metal theft from its equipment.
Among the incidents in Edinburgh were:
n Fuses stolen from a property in Wardieburn Street East in October. While investigating, a ScottishPower van was broken into and equipment stolen;
n Cabling stolen in Longanlea Terrace in June as workers were carrying out repairs;
n A substation in Crewe Toll was broken into in July. Doors were forced and copper was stolen;
n Telford Road Primary substation was broken into in May, with damage reported and copper stolen.
ScottishPower said any substation attack could have serious consequences as each one supplies an average of 100 homes, and every theft or act of vandalism can damage equipment and disrupt voltages, which could destroy household appliances or even cause fires.
The company said thieves also left substations unsecured, putting children and other passers-by in danger. Engineers and staff from the emergency services who respond to faults were also put at risk by having to enter damaged substations.
Tens of thousands of homes across the country have experienced interruptions to their power supplies as a result of thefts.
Mark Everett, ScottishPower Energy Networks manager for Edinburgh, said: “The people who steal from electricity substations are putting themselves at huge risk of being severely injured or killed.
“They are going in and ripping things out – they are not electrical people, they don’t know what is live and what is not.
“The emergency services often have to respond and they are being put at risk, as are our own staff who have to go and deal with these incidents.
“And the thieves are obviously not securing the substations after them, so children could potentially wander in.”
Mr Everett said the value of the metal being stolen was typically very low.
The month-long advertising campaign in newspapers and on billboards and radio, entitled Copped It, highlights all the different types of risk involved in metal theft from substations.
It also encourages members of the public who spot any suspicious behaviour beside substations and power lines to report the matter to the ScottishPower 24-hour response line. It can be called on 0845 272 7999.