Thieves scale live ESB pylon to steal €100k of copper
thieves climbed an electricity pylon at a Wicklow farm and cut high voltage wires before stealing more than €100,000 worth of copper wire, enough to stretch the length of two football pitches.
It is understood that the reckless thieves cut the high-voltage wires even though there was electricity flowing through them at the time.
The foolhardy incident caused a massive flash which could be seen throughout the locality. Gardai and ESB specialists are assessing exactly how much damage was caused to the electricity network.
It had been feared that the in incident could lead to widespread power outages, but this did not occur.
Sources say that just over 200 yards of copper wire was stolen.
Gardai have not yet made arrests in the case but are probing whether the crime was carried out by either eastern European criminals or a Traveller gang. Amazingly, no-one was injured during the course of the theft.
"This is the most reckless example of this type of crime that we have seen yet," a senior source told the Herald.
Gardai from Naas are investigating the incident which happened at a stud farm on the Wicklow/Kildare border.
"The incident that occurred in North Wicklow over the weekend is part of a new and potentially lethal phenomenon where cables are stolen from the live network," an ESB spokesman explained.
"This illegal practice is extremely dangerous not only to the individuals committing the theft but to the general public as well. These thefts have a serious impact on the security of the network and can result in power outages due to the damage caused.
"Cable theft commonly occurs at night, and ESB would like to ask the public to please be aware of any suspicious activity in your area in the vicinity of overhead lines.
"ESB and An Garda Siochana are working closely together to investigate this issue further and to track down these perpetrators."
Gardai say that this type of crime is becoming more common and it is estimated that well over €1m worth of copper wire has been stolen from the live network.
Last weekend's theft was one of the most serious to be recorded so far.
In a previous incident, a 28-year-old man was given a two-year sentence after he lost an arm in an attempt to steal copper wire from an electricity substation in Sandyford in April, 2013.
Gardai found a huge amount of blood at the scene and called around hospitals to see if anyone had been admitted with matching injuries, eventually snaring the injured criminal from Bray who was responsible for the theft.