THE battle against cable thieves in Doncaster has taken a dangerous turn after police were attacked by fireworks.
It is believed to be the first time police officers in the borough have come under attack while carrying our investigations into the metals crimewave.
Two officers escaped injury when fireworks were blasted at them as they tried to recover suspected stolen cable from a travellers’ site at Thorne.
Thorne fire crews were also called to extinguish telecommunications cable which was being burned on the Lands End caravan site, although the firefighters were not attacked.
South Yorkshire Police’s helicopter was also called up to help provide ‘air cover’ during the incident on Wednesday evening.
Fireworks were set off in the direction of the police officers who were first on the scene, it was confirmed.
The officers were on a routine patrol around 10pm on Wednesday at the travellers site in Thorne when they came across a fire.
On closer examination it proved to be cable being burned and they suspected it was stolen.
Police said that as the officers began to recover the cable two fireworks were let off in their direction but, fortunately, nobody was injured.
The cable was recovered by officers but there have been no arrests, although police are continuing to investigate to establish where the cable was from, say South Yorkshire Police.
Sgt Geordie Mackall said: “We will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. Using fireworks in this way is very dangerous and somebody could have been injured.
“I want to remind the public when using fireworks to always act sensibly and never aim them towards people. We are continuing to investigate this incident.”
Cable theft has become a huge national problem this year as worldwide demand for copper in consumer goods has forced the price to shoot up to around £6,000 a tonne.
Since the summer several Doncaster villages, including Hatfield, Lindholme and Arksey, have had their phone and broadband services cut off after thieves stripped telecoms cable from underground ducts.
Only last month, businesses on the Hayfield business park near Auckley lost custom when cable was taken from the site on two occasions.
Some of the gangs are using vehicles to pull the underground cable out before removing the sheathing to have the metal melted down.
Train passengers in South Yorkshire have also suffered hundreds of hours of delays caused by signalling cable being stolen from the rail system.
British Transport police have set up a dedicated unit to track down the cable thieves and have achieved some success.
Last week a 41-year-old Stainforth man received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for stealing cable from railway lines near Goole.
Both Network Rail and British Telecom have a standing reward for information leading to the conviction of offenders because of the huge cost to their industries.
Anybody with information about cable or metal thefts should contact the police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. All information will be dealt with in confidence.