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Thieves take power and phone cable in Basildon
THIEVES stole hundreds of metres of copper cable, wiping out a power station and phone lines.
The cost of the stolen copper cable is expected to run into several thousands of pounds, while engineers work around the clock to repair the damage.
The thieves struck at the Southfields Business Park in Southfields, Laindon.
They forced their way into a substation, which is a small building distributing power to nearby consumers, before ripping out the copper earth cables.
The theft was reported to police when passers-by saw the door to the substation ajar.
It is not clear exactly when the theft happened.
A spokeswoman for UK Power Networks said its engineers were working to replace the power lines.
She added: “We are committed to providing a safe, reliable electricity service.
“Our biggest concern is safety, because anyone who tampers with our electrical equipment is risking their lives and those of others who could come into contact with damaged equipment.
“We are constantly working to stamp out such incidents, particularly because the risks involved are horrendous, including severe burns and the loss of life.”
On Tuesday, thieves dug up and stole 280 metres of underground phone cable from Victoria Road, Laindon.
The theft meant as many as 200 customers – including businesses and residents – experienced problems with their phone and internet lines. They may not get a normal service until next week.
A BT spokeswoman said: “New cable is now in. Our engineers are working in 24-hour shifts to reattach customers to the new service.
“Customers will come back on gradually, but we believe it will take us into next week before everyone’s service is restored.
“Around 200 customers have reported faults to us. We have of course reported this to police and are working with them.”
A spokesman for Essex Police confirmed officers were investigating both thefts.
The metal thefts are the latest to hit and cause chaos in the borough.
Last month, the Echo reported a telegraph pole left hanging precariously over the road in Dry Street, Basildon, after thieves tried to chop it down to steal metal power lines.
BT is offering a reward of £1,000 for information leading to the thieves’ arrest and convictions.
Anyone with information can call police at Basildon on 0300 3334444.