Public urged to combat metal theft via confidential hotline

Crimestoppers is today (August 18th) launching a new campaign to combat the serious problem of metal theft.

Metal theft affects large numbers of businesses and communities across Ireland and incidents include the theft of electricity cables, copper wires, beer kegs, white electrical goods, road signs, letter boxes and goal posts. In recent years Ireland’s electricity network, public transport and telecommunications networks have all been victims of metal theft, with gangs of organised criminals removing significant amounts of electrical cable, signal cable and copper wire. ESB Networks, Irish Rail, Eircom, Diageo, An Post and WEEE Ireland are some of the Irish businesses affected by this problem.  

Of particular concern is the ongoing theft of electrical cable from ESB Networks.
  • In 2015 there have been 48 live line thefts so far in 2015.
  • Approximately 140km of Copper conductor stolen,  valued at €3m, costing €27m to replace and repair since 2012.
  • At least three serious injuries & one fatality linked to metal theft.
  • There have been 43 break-ins to ESB Networks substations in 2015.
  • Approximately 27,000 customers lost supply as a result of these thefts and there have been 81,000 customer hours lost.

Jointly organised by Crimestoppers, an Garda Síochána and ESB Networks this campaign is calling on members of the public and in particular those in the farming community with overhead power lines on their land to be vigilant for suspicious activity and to come forward with information. Information can be given anonymously to the Crimestoppers confidential telephone service by calling 1800 25 00 25. Alternatively, information can be provided to your local Garda station or ESB Networks on 1850 372 999.

Tim Dalton, Chairman, Crimestoppers commented, “There is little public awareness of this type of crime and even less understanding of the very serious public risk and inconvenience associated with it. Crimestoppers is asking members of the public to call 1800 25 00 25 if they see something that looks unusual and which might be linked to the theft of metal. Calls to Crimestoppers are free and anonymous and you might receive a reward for the information you provide.”

Derek Byrne, Assistant Commissioner, An Garda Síochána said, “The good news is that if the public provide enough information, we can arrest the criminals involved and reduce the impact it has on communities and businesses around Ireland. Information from the public had an important role to play in the success we have had arresting the gangs involved in the theft of power lines in recent weeks.”

“By contacting Crimestoppers with information you can help the Gardaí to reduce this type of crime and its impact on our communities. We are making a special appeal to farmers and  rural dwellers to contact us immediately if they believe that there is any suspicious activity taking place close to electricity networks on their land.”

This campaign is kindly supported by ESB Networks. According to Senan Colleran,  Head of Distribution and Customer Services, ESB Networks, “The theft of live copper lines has been an issue for ESB Networks for some time. Not only are the perpetrators of this illegal activity putting their lives at risk, they are also endangering the lives of members of the public by leaving potentially unsafe live network after them. There is the extreme danger of severe injury or fatality when attempting to steal live electricity lines or metal from ESB Networks High Voltage substations. This theft results in the loss of electricity supply to customers and causes significant inconvenience to our customers while the repair works are carried out by our crews.”

“As well as the public safety issue, this illegal activity also results in significant costs to ESB Networks in repairing the damaged electricity network and these costs are ultimately borne by all electricity customers.”

“ESB Networks is very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Irish Crimestoppers Trust on this campaign and with other utilities affected by this activity. We believe that the public has an important role to play in helping to put a stop to this type of theft and would appreciate their assistance by calling the free-phone confidential number if they notice suspicious activity near our network,” Senan added.

If you have any information in relation to metal theft, you can contact your local Garda Station or Crimestoppers on 1800 25 00 25. Your call to Crimestoppers is free and anonymous and you might receive a reward for information.