Scottish Power sets aside £20,000 for rewards to stop metal thefts

One of Scotland’s largest power firms has set aside £20,000 to offer rewards for information which lead to metal thieves being caught.

Scottish Power said about 20 incidents had been reported across central Scotland in just over two weeks.

These include thefts at Milngavie, Dalry, Shotts, Falkirk, Kilbarchan, Larkhall and Slamannan.

In one incident, 1,500 homes suffered a blackout after a truck hit a power line brought down over a road.

Guy Jefferson, network operations director at Scottish Power Energy Networks, said: “Metal theft is one of the biggest threats to the safety of the electricity network, and the impact of these crimes can be devastating.

“In recent years we have witnessed house fires and damaged electrical appliances in homes.”

‘Horrific burns’

He added: “One man died recently attempting to steal copper from an electricity pole in Lanarkshire, and others have suffered horrific burns, loss of limbs and scarring.”

Scottish Power said there had been more than 850 metal thefts on its network since January 2011.

One incident last year from a substation in Greenock resulted in two serious house fires and more than 200 properties suffering a blackout.

In 2011, a botched cable theft in Glasgow saw a 30-minute power outage for 50,000 properties in the city’s south side.

Mr Jefferson added: “We continue to increase our own security measures, and work closely with the police and other industries affected by this crime.

“I’d urge anyone who spots suspicious behaviour near our power lines to report what they have seen to the police.”

Source BBC

Collaborative efforts help combat metal thieves

Reports of metal theft have reduced by around 50% across the Midlands this year.

The number of thefts from the electricity distribution network has also fallen. Western Power Distribution (WPD), which manages the electricity power network for the region has reported a significant reduction with 251 incidents so far this year compared to 495 in 2012.

But WPD Security manager Peter Lowe says there can be no room for complacency: “Safety is our number one priority, which is why we have put a raft of measures in place to deter metal theft, but we have to remain vigilant.

“Some people are still prepared to dice with death in spite of the extremely high voltages involved with our equipment, and for very small reward. In doing so they put at risk the lives of our engineers who have to repair and replace infrastructure that may have been left in an unsafe condition, and the lives of innocent members of the public who could become victims,” he said.

To deter thieves, WPD has stepped up security with CCTV, anti-vandal paint, electric fences, patrols, intruder alarms and by applying the forensically traceable solution Smartwater to its equipment.

It has also forged close links with police and scrap metal dealers – publishing a booklet and posters to help them easily identify WPD cables and equipment.

As an active partner, WPD sits on four regional Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) metal theft groups and helps with anti-metal theft operations and educational and enforcement visits to scrap metal dealers.

WPD recently opened the doors of its Tipton depot as a venue for the West Midlands group which comprises of West Midlands, Staffordshire, West Mercia, Warwickshire and British Transport Police. Over eighty officers took part over two days of training which included presentations from industry and culminated in a tour of WPD’s state-of-the-art engineering academy where officers could see, in a safe environment, the types of electrical assets that were being targeted.

Source: Western Power Distribution

“There is no doubt that our partnership with the police has led to a significant reduction in thefts but the problem still exists and we will maintain our resolve to combat the thieves,” said Peter.

Chief Inspector Ricky Fields heads up the regional metal theft group. He said: “By working together with neighbouring forces, government and industry we are taking a comprehensive approach to metal theft and, in turn, trying to stay one step ahead of criminals across the region.

“We patrol hotspot areas and work closely with the owners of vulnerable buildings, such as churches and power stations, to provide crime prevention advice.

“We are also running Operation Tornado, a British Transport Police-led initiative from the Association of Chief Police Officers, which requires all scrap metal dealers in the East Midlands to comply with stringent rules when it comes to buying scrap.

“We regularly stage ad-hoc roadside operations in the Midlands in a bid to keep thieves and handlers on their toes and send the message out that no time or place is safe to commit crime on our watch.”

To report suspicious activity or any information about metal theft and handling contact the Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Source: Western Power Distribution

Metal thieves in 1,200 raids on electricity substations

Metal thieves carried out more than 1,200 raids on electricity substations in the last four years, according to Scottish businesses.

The raids have resulted in three deaths and more than 20 arrests. Each crime costs firms thousands of pounds in repair bills, lost power and safety risks to the public. The Metal Theft Summit being held in Cambuslang later hopes to highlight the impact of crimes on businesses and communities. Utility firm SP Energy Networks claims the thefts have contributed to the firm facing an £18m UK bill.

Jim Scott, of the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), said the findings illustrated the impact metal theft can cause and the risk to human life. He said: “As part of our drive to tackle metal theft, we must look to improve reporting and vigilance, as well as raise awareness of the responsibilities faced by those who trade in scrap metal – especially in the lead up to the legislation changes.”

New legislation will prohibit scrap metal dealers from accepting cash payments.

Mr Scott, whose group is run in partnership with the Scottish government, added: “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 behaviour.”

The new legislation will come into force in September. It prohibits scrap metal dealers from accepting cash payments and forces them to identify sellers to better regulate the trade of scrap metal.

The SBRC has joined forces with British Transport Police, Police Scotland, DWP and Trading Standards to run Operation Scandium which involves stopping vehicles to educate drivers about scrap metal legislation.

‘Selfish criminals’

Ch Supt John McBride, of British Transport Police, said: “While we have seen a welcome decrease in the number of incidents from a high of several years ago, metal theft continues to disrupt and inconvenience industry and the public as well as being costly to rectify.”

Eddie Mulholland, district manager at SP Energy Networks, 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.

“We support all efforts to stop these selfish criminals, and restrict their ability to sell stolen metal.”

The event takes places at the Scottish Fire and Rescue National Training Centre in Cambuslang.

Source BBC

Metal thieves pillage French wind turbines

A sophisticated network of metal thieves has targeted some 20 French wind turbines in a new looting trend, scaling the near 40-metre-high structures and stealing up to one tonne of metal from a single engine, Le Figaro reported Wednesday.

Citing an anonymous police source, the daily newspaper said the ring stole metal from wind farms in sparsely populated areas, where they had less chance of being caught.

“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor,” the officer said, noting the thieves broke through the doors at the bottom of the turbines, before using the stairs to reach the engine which is located at the top – often as high as 40 metres off the ground. “By using bolt cutters and makeshift tools they then cut and ripped out the whole metal wiring, which is mostly made of copper,” he said.

The officer said a metal raid of a single wind turbine engine could amount to as much as one tonne of loot. One tonne of copper is estimated to be worth around 4,500 euros on the  market.

But the officer said the thieves take great risks, since their modus operandi means they’re stuck within the turbines for several minutes during the raids, with no alternative exits to the bottom door.

According to Le Figaro, at least 20 such incidents have been recorded recently. Two successful raids and one foiled attempt were reported in March alone.

In response to the escalated number of raids, turbine operators have installed video surveillance systems, while police have begun patrolling particularly large wind farms with helicopters equipped with cameras.

“If it’s not a national problem yet, it’s soon going to become one” an unnamed investigator told the newspaper.

Between 2012 and 2013, the number of reported metal theft cases in France rose by almost 18 percent, from 11,811 to 13,923. Copper made up 65 percent of the stolen metal.

Source: France24