POLICE investigating an explosion caused when a thief cut through a live power cable on a building site are checking hospitals amid concerns the culprit may have suffered serious burns.
Residents reported a dazzling flash of light and a loud crackling noise after the cable was severed at the site in Dixon Court in Whitburn, West Lothian.
Officers found a saw lying next to the cable which they believe the thief was using in a bid to steal the length of copper cable.
ScottishPower engineers were called in to the make the cable safe following the electrical surge at around 10.50pm on Wednesday.
Police alerted staff at St John’s Hospital in Livingston, as well as medical centres in Edinburgh and Lanarkshire, to be on the lookout for patients suffering from burns.
Inspector Ian Moffat said: “We received a call from a resident in one of the finished new-build houses who saw the flash, which seemed like a bolt of lighting. He had CCTV on his property so he checked the tape and found the flash had been caught on film.
“The person who cut the cable may well have suffered some sort of flash burn from the electricity, which could be quite extensive.
“We are concerned for the individual’s health, although so far we’ve had no reports from hospitals of anyone attending with that kind of injury.”
Police believe the culprit was attempting to steal the cable to sell as scrap and take advantage of the current high price for metals.
ScottishPower has received reports of three other incidents in the Whitburn area in recent months where electricity supplies were tampered with in an effort to steal cable.
Insp Moffat added: “Aside from the obvious cost implications, metal theft can also make an object unsafe for use and put the public in danger.”
A spokeswoman for Lovell, the construction firm developing the site, said: “Lovell is in the process of connecting the power supply to the site at Terrace, where the company is currently constructing 116 units.
“Vandals broke into the site in an attempt to steal copper wiring after the site was closed. Further security measures have been implemented following the incident and we are committed to working with the police to ensure people are made aware of the dangers of construction sites.”
A ScottishPower spokesman said: “Anyone who tries to steal live electricity cables is showing a staggering disregard for their own safety, the safety of the public, and that of our employees.”
He added: “It beggars belief that anyone would put their life on the line by interfering with live electricity to steal cables with a minimal scrap value.”