2nd Image 040515

Metal thieves cause misery and disruption for local communities and businesses

Metal theft is a serious crime that can cause destruction of property, serious environmental damage and most importantly puts lives at risk. However, for most people the real impact is the power cuts that metal thefts cause, disrupting their local community.

What is metal theft?

For Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for managing and maintaining the power network in the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, metal theft means damage and theft from the company’s vital network which delivers electricity to your door.

How does metal theft affect you?

Metal theft affects us all.

In the home lights and heating go off, cooking and washing facilities stop working and phones cannot be charged – to name a few.

In the community street lights and traffic lights can stop working leading to darkness and causing traffic jams. 

For businesses production lines can temporarily stop, payment facilities can go down and shops may have to stop trading.

Know anything about those committing metal theft crime in your area? Tell us about it completely anonymously.

Why are we focusing on this?

We're working in partnership with Northern Powergrid to raise awareness of the very real issues caused by metal theft.  We want local communities to join us as we work together to stop thieves targeting their electricity network and disrupting everyday life in their hometown. 


  • Power cuts caused by metal thieves bring disruption to everyday lives in homes and businesses.
  • Prolonged and repeated power cuts can bring about unnecessary hardship and financial cost.


  • Metal theft can cause voltage spikes which damage electrical appliances within the home.
  • Metal thieves often leave live power lines dangerously close to the ground, risking electrocution to innocent bypassers or livestock who come close to or make contact with live equipment.

Know anything about this crime being committed in your area? Tell us about it completely anonymously.

The real impact of metal theft

Metal thieves targeted overhead lines in Teesside, cutting electricity supplies to homes and businesses and risking people's lives.  The sections of line targeted were close to the rear of a school, where thieves left live power lines hanging down risking electrocution to anyone passing by.

In a neighbouring area, metal thieves plunged The Sutton Arms pub and restaurant into darkness, disabling cooking facilitates and forcing the landlord to turn customers away.  

They also halted production at Teesside-based car parts manufacturer Nifco UK, forcing employees to have to temporarily stop working and costing the company around £10,000 for every lost hour on its production line.

Mike Matthews MBE, managing director of Nifco UK


"Our plant machines produce thousands of plastic parts every day, so when the power goes off, our business is effectively shut down and our people, from the shop floor to office staff, are unable to do their job.
"It is paramount that we quickly deal with the mindless criminals who are not only putting their own lives in danger, but are putting the public at risk and impacting on local businesses. They may think they are just stealing parts of cables, but the reality is that they are taking away the prospect of major investment in the area – that means future jobs on Teesside. It’s a huge concern and, by working in partnership with Northern Powergrid and member organisations of the Safer Stockton Partnership, including the police and Stockton Borough Council, as well as Crimestoppers, we hope we can bring this to a close."

- Mike Matthews

Know anything about those committing this crime in your area? Tell us about it completely anonymously.

How can you spot metal theft?

There are a number of ways to identify signs of metal theft:

  • Suspicious activity, suspicious persons or suspicious unbranded vehicles around electricity substations and overhead power lines.
  • People working on the power lines without high visibility, branded safety clothing.
  • People loading cable into vehicles.
  • Activity around power lines during the night or early hours of the morning.
  • A broken or fallen down power line.
  • An open door at a substation.

What can you do to tackle metal theft?

Get in touch

We need your help to catch the thieves who are causing disruption to your everyday life, affecting businesses and local economies and posing serious safety risks in your community.

  • If you see cables that have been left dangerously, do not approach them - contact Northern Powergrid's emergency number:
    North East: 0800 66 88 77 or Yorkshire & Northern Lincolnshire: 0800 375 675
  • If you witness a theft in progress call the police on 999.
  • If you suspect or know someone who is involved in metal theft then tell us what you know, not who you are. You can give information on crime anonymously to us on 0800 555 111 or by using our Anonymous Online Form.

Stay safe

  • Be sure to keep a safe distance from any seemingly broken equipment or anyone behaving suspiciously.
  • Do not touch or go close to any exposed cables, enter open substations or attempt to move dangling cables as they may still be live and, therefore, extremely dangerous.
  • Ensure children, pets and livestock are kept away from any damaged or exposed electrical equipment.

Spread the message about metal theft

You can spread the message about metal theft and help to raise awareness with these campaign materials:

Find out more about metal theft

Know anything about this crime being committed in your area? Tell us about it completely anonymously.