METAL thieves are risking their lives by breaking into electrity substations across Sheffield according to police – with 14 targeted in the city last month.
South Yorkshire Police said, in each burglary reported in September, cable was stolen.
The force and Northern Powergrid, which distributes electricity on behalf of power suppliers, are now warning of the dangers substations pose.
They are also urging anyone with information about metal thieves targeting them to come forward.
Thieves are being warned stealing cables can cause power surges, electrocuting them and impacting on homes, businesses, schools and hospitals, which could be left without power.
Inspector Jason Booth, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We want to warn members of the public about the potential dangers and we would urge the public to stay away from substations.
“We are working hard to catch those people responsible for the thefts and deal with them robustly.”
Nigel Walker, Northern Powergrid vulnerable assets manager, said: “Theft of metal from our power assets is an utterly foolhardy act that puts at risk the lives of not only the thieves but also the general public. It brings disruption to the community and the damage it can cause may take weeks to repair fully.
“We want everyone to know that metal theft is a mindless crime with dire consequences.
“Northern Powergrid is working closely with the police to combat the crime and to raise awareness among members of the public.
“We would appeal to the public for their support and ask anyone who sees any suspicious activity close to power lines or substations or who has information about any acts of metal theft or attempted theft to contact South Yorkshire Police or call Northern Powergrid.”
British Transport Police yesterday ran a Day of Action aimed at tackling metal thefts on the railways.
Between April and October, there were 180 offences reported in BTP’s North East region, which includes South Yorkshire – down from 512 the year before.
n Anyone with any information about metal theft should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.