Smart solution to stop cable theft in Mansfield and Ashfield

NMAC11-2390-2''Western Power Distribution are spraying their network cables with Smartwater to deter further theft in the area. Pictured is the Chief Inspector for Nottinghamshire Sean Anderson, left, with Peter Lowe, Security Manager for Western Power Distribution.
NMAC11-2390-2''Western Power Distribution are spraying their network cables with Smartwater to deter further theft in the area. Pictured is the Chief Inspector for Nottinghamshire Sean Anderson, left, with Peter Lowe, Security Manager for Western Power Distribution.

A POWER firm which had thousands of pounds of material stolen in Clipstone has turned to a high-tech solution to tackle cable theives.

Western Power Distribution (WPD) says the theft of £72,000 of specially manufactured copper cable from a site in Clipstone in May was one of 200 incidents of theft the firm has been faced with over the past 12 months.

A gang used 4x4 vehicles or winches to pull more than six tonnes of the cable from the ground.

Now, WPD is attempting to tackle to the problem by linking-up with SmartWater, the firm behind hi-tech forensic traps which coat would-be thieves with an invisible, chemically coded liquid.

Once activated, thieves will carry evidence of their crime on their skin and clothes wherever they go, even long after the crime took place.

The devices will be deployed in hotspot areas across WPD’s network.

Any traces of SmartWater can be detected using UV lights.

Peter Lowe, security risk manager for Western Power Distribution, said: “With the price of copper reaching an all time high, coming in at approximately £6,200 per tonne, it is proving more and more attractive to thieves.  

“With the demand for it constantly increasing, especially in countries like China, the problem is set to get worse.

“As always our first priority is for the safety of the general public and of our engineers.

“These crimes are not victimless and can cause much disruption. If there is a power outage then hospitals and other critical services could face major disruption, as well as people losing power in their homes.” 

Meanwhile, scrap yard workers are being urged to look out for earthing cable stolen from Lindhurst Wind Farm on Blidworth Lane at around 1am on 12th September.

Thieves gained entry into five turbines and stole cable from three of them.

It followed two other attempts on 7th and 8th September when nothing was stolen but turbines were damaged.

Sgt Brendon Hunt said the crime was not victimless and the damage would cost thousands of pounds to fix.

“The cable has a yellow and green plastic insulated coating on the outside, which the offenders may remove before selling it on.

“Anyone who works in a scrap yard and is approached by someone selling a significant amount of earthing cable and cannot account for where it came from, should contact police immediately. “

Anyone with information should contact police on 0300 3009999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

WPD is offering £5,000 reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of anyone involved in copper theft from its network.