Ausgrid has issued a warning about interfering with live electrical wires following dangerous incidents in Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens, where copper wire was stripped and stolen from power lines.

Emergency crews were called to Masonite Road at Tomago in Port Stephens at around 2am on Tuesday 21 August 2018 after a fault was detected.

They discovered metal guards had been removed, and copper earth cables had been taken from a connection between underground cables and 33,000 volt overhead powerlines.

Chief Operating Officer, Trevor Armstrong, said the attempt to remove the cable resulted in significant damage.

“This was incredibly dangerous and we condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms,” Mr Armstrong said.

“This could have ended tragically for those involved, no amount of copper is worth your life.”

On Saturday 18 August, an Ausgrid crew also discovered damage to overhead powerlines in Lake Macquarie.

500 metres of copper wire across two spans of 33,000 volt overhead powerlines had been cut down and stolen on Awaba Road at Toronto West.

“One of the damaged wires came close to falling across Awaba Road which connects to the M1, so we were very fortunate that no-one was injured,” Mr Armstrong said.

The west Lake Macquarie and Toronto area has been targeted multiple times since the start of 2018.

In March, would-be thieves used bolt cutters to cut down 150 metres of live 11,000 volt overhead powerlines near Ausgrid’s Toronto West zone substation.

The incidents have been reported to police and Ausgrid Security is assisting the investigation.

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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