THIEVES posing as workmen have stolen £15,000 of copper cabling from electricity sub stations across Hyndburn.

Electricity bosses say the high-risk thefts could prove fatal, with up to 33,000 volts surging through the wires.

In the past two weeks, 30 sub station have been broken into in Accrington, Great Harwood, Rishton, Church and Oswaldtwistle.

Police patrols have been stepped up and officers have been speaking to residents to encourage them to report anything suspicious.

An investigation is under way to find out who is responsible and police are examining CCTV footage to find out who is behind the thefts.

Letters have also been delivered to residents overlooking the sites.

According to the industry body, Energy Networks Associates, people have been killed and seriously injured while trying to steal copper from electrical sub station.

It also said the cost of metal thefts was directly passed on to customers in their electricity bills.

PC Peter Norris, of the division’s targeting team, said: “It is possible the people responsible are arriving at all times of the day and night and are likely to appear genuine, perhaps in vans with high-visibility jackets and trousers. We’ve had some reports of people’s power supply being affected and so are appealing to local residents to let us know if they experience any problems. People should be extra vigilant and report anything suspicious to us immediately.”

Lee Maxwell, area manager for Electricity North West, said: “We are working closely with Lancashire police to crackdown on this very serious crime.

“People breaking into our sub stations are not only putting themselves and others in great danger, but it causes thousands of pounds worth of damage and affects livelihoods and also vulnerable people, including the elderly, who may be left without power. These criminals know what they are doing, so we are urging people if you do hear or see anything suspicious please call so we can investigate.”

Two men, aged 22 and 23, have been arrested on suspicion of burglary relating to two offences. Both have been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Anyone with information, call Electricity North West’s free 24-hour number on 0800 195 4141, the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.