NORTHERN Ireland Electricity has warned that tampering with electricity equipment could result in serious injury, or even death.
The warning follows a break-in at an electricity substation at the derelict Felden House site on Mill Road near Bawnmore on Tuesday, February 12.
Thieves used power saws to break into the brick-built high voltage substation before tampering with electricity equipment and stealing a quantity of copper wiring. The damage to the substation left 12 homes in the surrounding area without electricity.
NIE emergency crews responded immediately, assessing the damage and carrying out repairs to restore electricity supplies to affected customers.
Valerie Curran, NIE Customer Relations Manager for the Newtownabbey area, said the perpetrators are lucky to be alive.
“I cannot emphasise enough the risks involved in interfering with live electricity equipment. The perpetrators damaged live electricity equipment in an attempt to steal materials from the substation and could have been electrocuted. Electricity has killed, and will kill again if it is not treated with respect.”
She added: “It is impossible to make equipment completely resistant to determined acts of vandalism. The best remedy would be if the people involved can be persuaded to stop putting themselves at risk and their communities to great inconvenience.
“Anyone who interferes with electricity equipment must think about their actions and the serious consequences of their behaviour. This latest incident has been reported to the PSNI and I would ask all members of the local community to be extra vigilant and to report anything suspicious to the PSNI or ourselves on 08457 643 643.”
A PSNI spokesperson commented: “The thieves are believed to have made off with the copper, estimated to be worth several thousand pounds, in a silver coloured VW Passat car or a white Transit van with two blue stripes on the bonnet.
“Anyone who witnessed the theft or who knows the whereabouts of either vehicle is asked to contact police at Newtownabbey Station on 0845 600 8000.”