Lives put at risk with theft of copper powerlines

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24 August 2018

Ausgrid is warning that people are risking their lives by interfering with live electrical wires following two dangerous incidents in Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens in the past week.

Emergency crews were called to Masonite Road at Tomago in Port Stephens about 2am on Tuesday after a fault was detected.

They discovered metal guards had been removed and copper earth cables had been taken from a connection between underground cables and 33,000 volt overhead powerlines.

Chief Operating Officer Trevor Armstrong said the attempt to remove the cable resulted in significant damage.

“This was incredibly dangerous and we condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms

“This could have ended tragically for those involved, no amount of copper is worth your life”, Mr Armstrong said.

On Saturday morning an Ausgrid crew also discovered damage to overhead powerlines in Lake Macquarie.

500 metres of copper wire across two spans of 33,000 volt overhead powerlines had been cut down and stolen on Awaba Road at Toronto West.

“One of the damaged wires came close to falling across Awaba Road which connects to the M1, so we were very fortunate that no-one was injured”, Mr Armstrong said.

The west Lake Macquarie and Toronto area has been targeted this year multiple times.

In March would-be thieves used bolt cutters to cut down 150 metres of live 11,000 volt overhead powerlines near Ausgrid’s Toronto West zone substation.

The incidents have been reported to police and Ausgrid Security is assisting the investigation.

Anyone who may have any information on the copper thefts is urged to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

Media contact: 24 hour news pager 02 9966 7985.