Thieves risk lives to steal copper powerlines

Stolen copper 33kv conductors. Image: Ausgrid

Ausgrid is warning people are risking their lives by interfering with live electrical wires following two dangerous incidents in New South Wales recently.

Emergency crews were called to Masonite Road at Tomago in Port Stephens last week 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.

Ausgrid 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,” Mr Armstrong said.

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

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

Five hundred 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 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 150m 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.