Attempted Copper Theft from Scottish Power’s Westfield Electrical substation in Ballingry on 7th June resulted in a power failure
Four homes went up in flames and hundreds were left without power in sub-zero temperatures this morning after thieves cut through a cable at an electricity substation to steal copper worth just £40.
One family, with two young children, was forced to flee their home in Greenock, Inverclyde, at 4am.
They escaped the house in Devon Road after thick smoke filled the property. The 28-year-old father was treated for smoke inhalation.
Fires: As a result of the cable theft, small fires broke out in three homes around the area. Frank McGarrity, (left) landlord of one of the properties, stands in the house which was engulfed in flames after the power surge
The fires were sparked by a power surge from the cutting of cables in a substation in Burns Square in the town.
A spokesman for the company said the thieves risked their lives by stealing the cable which had caused an ‘incredible’ problem for local people.
The criminals took three metres of copper wire, said to be worth about £40.
By cutting the neutral wire, they caused a power surge back that caused domestic fuse boxes to blow, starting the fires.
The spokesman said: ‘There are currently 280 homes offline and engineers are working to restore it and visit all homes affected. We’re also working with the council to set up somewhere residents can go in the meantime to get something hot to eat or drink as it’s a cold day.
Fled: A family was forced to flee their smoke-filled home in the early hours after the power surge caused several fires
Intense: The heat from the fire melted the plastic on children’s toys
‘The cable that was stolen was only three metres and that’s not worth more than a double-figure sum.
‘They were were lucky because there’s an 11,000-volt cable in the substation and if they had tried to cut that they would’ve been electrocuted.
‘It’s caused an incredible amount of trouble and they’re lucky to be alive.’
Police said the family forced to flee their house due to a fire had faced a ‘terrifying’ ordeal.
Inspector Jennifer Shanks said: ‘This young family have been extremely lucky that they managed to escape so quickly from their house with two very young children, however, with five weeks to go before Christmas, their house has been extensively damaged after a surge at their electricity box.
‘This terrifying fire was caused by someone stealing around £40 worth of copper piping from the nearby Burns Square substation.
Dangerous: The thieves stole metres of wire which caused fires and left hundreds of homes without power
Stolen: Three metres of solid copper wire, worth about £40, was stolen from the substation
‘Additionally many other families in the local area experienced fires in their homes and damage to their property.
‘Around 300 houses in the Larkfield area have been left without electricity on one of the coldest mornings of the year, some of these householders will undoubtedly have very young, or old people who are vulnerable to the cold.
‘We have said to the public many times before that the theft of metal is extremely dangerous and no more so than this morning. Around £40 worth of metal being stolen has almost cost a family their lives and left many people without power.
Damage: The electric substation in Greenock was broken into and caused several fires
‘I would like to reassure the public that we are carrying out extensive inquiries to trace those responsible for this theft and I would ask anyone who has any information or who was in the Burns Square area of Greenock in the early hours of this morning to get in touch.’
Scottish Power said it was working to restore electricity to the area but engineers needed to visit every home affected to make sure there is no damage, or further problems could be caused when the power is turned back on – which it hoped would happen by late afternoon or early evening.
Scottish Power launched a campaign last month offering up to £10,000 for information leading to the conviction of thieves who steal metal from substations and asked anyone with information on the theft in Greenock to contact them or the police.
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 08000 555 111. Scottish Power can be contacted on its 24-hour response line 08452 727 999.
Original Content by The Daily Mail
ScottishPower publish substation earth monitoring report following the successful project with Cresatech CuTS® ZM.
The report from ScottishPower Energy Networks, published on 18th July 2016 provides confirmation that “the Cresatech CuTS® unit and service is a viable solution for the detection and mitigation of safety impact and service continuity issues that result from metal infrastructure theft from electrical networks.” It “highlighted that it is possible to monitor substation assets through the use of an innovative monitoring system.”
The pervasive security, safety and service continuity issues generated by metal theft have driven power network operator’s requirements for a cost effective method of detecting such theft activity as it happens.
Cresatech CuTS® ZM sends a real time alert as the theft events occur so safety and service risks can be mitigated in the most suitable and effective manner.
“Liaising with the local districts, utilising local knowledge and reviewing past history of vandalism and theft, a number of substation locations were chosen for the trial. The locations were reviewed to ensure their suitability and an installation plan was developed with regards to available internal resources. This approach enabled the monitors to be evaluated against conventional alternative preventative measures and also increased the chance that they would be triggered for an actual theft occurrence.”
Key conclusions quoted directly from the report;
“During the trial period there was not a copper theft incident at any of the chosen 25 sites. However, a number of preplanned and random tests were carried out to simulate the removal or tampering of earthed infrastructure. These tests proved the Cresatech CuTS® system effectively detected removal or tampering of the earthed infrastructure.”
“The trial successfully proved;
- The successful and reliable detection of copper theft and tampering at key substation locations either through test simulations or actual events.
- Low incidences of mal-operation and spurious alarms”
It was concluded that “The (Cresatech CuTS®) monitors adequately detected when earthing was removed or tampered with during testing”
“Remote monitoring technologies in general are likely to support multiple business cases, potentially across multiple stakeholders. In the case of this project in addition to security, it has become clear that other benefits include;
- Safety (for employees and public on-site and further downstream in the network); and
- Operational efficiency (for example, asset protection, planned maintenance etc.) “
To read the full report on IFI 1209 and see the supporting documents including a Cost Benefit Analysis and video, please go to ScottishPower & Cresatech Report
Or send us your details on our contact page.
To receive all 4 report documents please contact us and they will be sent direct to your mailbox.
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