To combat this growing issue, the company has teamed up with Crimestoppers and other utility companies to raise awareness in local communities of the safety risks and community impact of this crime.
Roy Coulter, Director of Health, Safety and Risk at NIE, said, “In the last twelve months we have seen increasing incidents of metal theft in our electricity substations and depots across Northern Ireland. These have had direct impacts on local communities when vandals have caused power cuts and left equipment in dangerous states."
“We are encouraging anyone who sees thieves or vandals tampering with electricity equipment to report it to NIE on 08457 643643 or to Crimestoppers."
“In some cases these incidents involved vandals breaking into electricity substations which are full of live equipment running at extremely high voltage. Live electricity equipment is unforgiving and extremely dangerous. These vandals were lucky that they made it out alive.”
Launching the campaign at Stormont today, David Ford, the Minister for Justice, said: “Opportunistic criminals are targeting our community, and putting everyone at risk, by stealing metal from domestic, public and corporate premises.
“It is easy to think the impact of this crime is purely financial but this crime can also be extremely dangerous to you, your family and your community. Criminals will target children’s playgrounds, church and school roofs, telephone cabling and similar items, with no regard for the potential consequences.”
The Joint Vice Chair of Crimestoppers in Northern Ireland, Barry Byrne said: “Crimestoppers is an independent, international charity providing a vital service to the public, enabling them to pass information in relation to crime anonymously in order to make Northern Ireland a safer place for all of us."
“The public can provide any information, no matter how small, 24 hours a day either by phone 0800 555 111 or online with guaranteed anonymity and without it even showing on their phone bill. Crimestoppers really does deliver results with over 2,000 arrests and the recovery of £4.5million of property and drugs in Northern Ireland alone.”