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Te Puke Times - 2021-10-14

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Down to earth — risky to steal wires

FRONT PAGE

Stuart Whitaker

Police and Powerco are warning of the potential consequences of the theft of earth cabling from power poles in several rural areas around Te Puke. There have been three pockets where the earth-wire from power poles has been taken, Nos 1, 2 and 3 roads, around Maketu¯ , and Old Coach Rd in Paengaroa/pukehina. More than 70 power poles have been hit. The incidents involve copper wiring being stripped from power poles. Te Puke Police Sergeant Mike Owen says Te Puke Police are appealing to the public to report any suspicious activity around power poles and lines in their community. “Police are aware of around 73 poles in Powerco’s electricity network, which have been targeted in the community and stripped of their copper cabling,” he says. If anyone sees anyone acting suspiciously around power poles and lines, particularly in rural areas, they are asked to ring 111 immediately. “Police have seen many instances of potentially live wires being left hanging down, or earth cables being cut when people have stolen cables,” he says. “Thieves may not realise they are putting their lives and those of the public at risk by stealing it. It’s only a matter of time until either a thief, or an innocent member of the public, is injured or killed because of these actions.” Mike is encouraging people, particularly in rural areas, to join or form neighbourhood support groups and remain vigilant for suspicious activity in their area. Powerco’s senior health, safety, environment and quality advisor, Sean Heasman says Powerco’s priority is to make its electricity network safe following any thefts, with repairs being made as soon as any damage is discovered. Sean says the thefts are creating significant safety risks. ‘‘Without the protection of an earth cable, a fault in the line can cause people and/or animals to be directly exposed to a high risk of electrocution. ‘‘There’s also a risk that the current will travel back along the line and cause damage to appliances and machinery, affecting homes and businesses. “We take public safety incidents extremely seriously. ‘‘We encourage members of the public to notify us or the police immediately if they see any suspicious activity on our network. ‘‘We also ask people to report any wires that look like they’ve been noticeably cut or are hanging low.” Anyone who can assist with information is asked to call 105 and quote file number 210922/9344. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Powerco’s emergency number is 0800 27 27 27.

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