September 20, 2008
Don’t Dice With Death, Cable Theft Gangs Told
By Tim Lewis
THIEVES tried to steal electricity cable carrying 33,000 volts - just hours after a coroner had warned of the dangers of metal thefts.
Deputy Gwent coroner Wendy James was speaking at the inquest of 43-year-old Kirk Thompson, from Bettws, on Thursday.
He was electrocuted while trying to steal copper wire from the Panteg Steelworks in Pontypool in April.
The former heroin addict's bolt cutters pierced a cable still connected to the National Grid and carrying 11,000 volts.
On Thursday evening thieves tried to steal around 150 metres of cable connected to an electric pylon in Pontypridd.
Police and electricity company officials have criticised the would-be criminals for putting themselves and others at risk.
Paul Bishop, spokesman for electricity company Western Power Distribution, said: "These people are dicing with death. It is a huge risk for a relatively small reward. We can't stress enough how dangerous this type of crime is."
The attempted theft happened at around 9.30pm on Wednesday in an empty field near to Coed-y-Cwm in Ynysybwl.
It is thought the criminals threw a length of chain over the cable and pulled it to the ground.
This automatically triggered an alarm at the electricity company and police were called to the scene.
Mr Bishop added: "The thieves must have some knowledge of what they are doing so we think it's an organised gang. They need to work quickly but have no way of knowing if the supply's been cut off.
"It's a very dangerous game to be invloved with."
When South Wales Police arrived on the scene shortly before 10pm the cable was on the ground.
A spokesperson for South Wales Police added: "We don't know if they intended to come back for it or if they were disturbed and decided to leave.
"Those who steal live cable are not only breaking the law they are also putting their lives at risk."
No arrests have been made but investigations into the incident are ongoing.
Western Power said there was no disruption to the supply to nearby homes and engineers had worked through the night to fix the section of cable.
Thefts of this kind are becoming more common as the cost of scrap metal soars.
The 150 metres of copper wire would have been worth anything between pounds 1,000 and pounds 2,000 if sold on.
Recording an accidental death verdict at Newport, the deputy coroner said Kirk Thompson's "luck had run out".
She added: "These type of thefts are on the increase and people should heed the warnings of the dangers of electricity.
"If they choose to ignore the warnings they will pay the highest price possible."
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