Brazen thieves target rural properties, cut down power lines for copper

There's concern there could be loss of life.
There's concern there could be loss of life. Photo credit: Supplied/Powerco

A Manawatu power company says brazen thieves who are stealing copper from power lines on rural properties, are putting lives at risk.

Powerco said attacks on its roadside network was not a new problem but it is worried that a spate of thefts in the Kimbolton area have involved private properties.

General manager of Service Delivery and System Operations, Ian Skipworth said there had been a number of thefts on the network since May but the latest move was a concern.

"There is a real threat of electrocution for those cutting the wire but they are also endangering the safety of people living on the properties," he said.

"This week's incident involved service lines on a farm and when a farmer discovers the theft he has no idea if lines left dangling are live or not," said Skipworth.

He said the thefts were planned and the work of well-equipped people with knowledge of electrical systems.

"The police have been contacted but they suspect the thieves are selling the wire for scrap outside the areas they target, possibly even overseas."

Powerco's first priority was to make its network safe after the thefts.

"The thieves are looking to make a quick buck without any regard to public safety. We urge anyone who sees any suspicious activity to report it."

Police in the area are supporting Powerco's call for community help.

Manawatü Area Prevention Manager Inspector Ross Grantham said it was important to identify the irresponsible and risk-taking thieves targeting power lines for scrap metal.

"Not only does cutting power to rural properties put thieves and property owners at risk when wires are left dangling, but it also creates risks when power might be required for medical support or farm productivity," he said.

"Police are also keen to identify the scrap metal merchants buying this stolen material. Dealers buying this scrap are creating the market for stolen material and are just as responsible as the thieves."

"Our message to merchants is to be vigilant, and if you have concerns over people offering to sell the material then decline the business and contact police," he said.

Anyone with information should call Powerco on 0800 769372, contact Police on 105, or report anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.