Metal thieves stealing from live power substations are ‘risking their lives’, say police.

A crackdown has begun on metal thieves after a spike of the crime.

Criminals have targeted substations in Leyland, Bamber Bridge and Whittle-le-Woods, stealing metal from live equipment and running the risk of power cuts or dips.

Officers are joining forces with Electricity North West, which owns and operates the network to undertake regular patrols in areas of concern.

They are also visiting scrapyards to talk to dealers and working with Electricity North West engineers to identify metal stolen from the network Sgt Al McMiken, said: “If you see any suspicious activity near a substation or any other electricity installation, such as poles or pylons, then please contact the police immediately.

“Do not attempt in any circumstances to enter a substation or handle wires as they are likely to still be live and dangerous.”

Electricity North West’s Lancashire area manager, Lee Maxwell, added: “Metal theft can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, including damage to appliances in your home.

“Thieves are putting their lives at risk, and these thefts can also be a risk to the safety of the public if sites are left in a dangerous state.”