CRIMESTOPPERS and Northern Powergrid have joined forces to launch a campaign to highlight the misery and disruption metal thieves can cause for local communities and businesses when they steal from the electricity network.

The campaign follows a number of incidents last year which caused power disruption for close to 37,000 people in West Yorkshire and Stockton-on-Tees.

In 2014 there were 566 case of metal theft from Northern Powergrid’s electricity network across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire.

The campaign aims to increase awareness of how metal theft can disrupt the power network that delivers electricity to people’s door and urge communities to be extra vigilant.

Northern Powergrid hears from customers affected by power cuts theft ‘hotspot’ areas on a regular basis and strives to reduce the impact this disruption causes. In the home, lights and heating go off, cooking and washing facilities are disrupted and phones cannot be charged.

In the community street lights and traffic lights can stop working leading to darkness and traffic jams; industry production lines cease and businesses and shops may have to temporarily stop trading.

There is also the real safety concern of electrocution to anyone coming too close to damaged electrical equipment that has been interfered with by metal thieves.

This can include members of the public, the emergency services and livestock – as well as endangering Northern Powergrid staff when responding to an incident.

Dave Hunter, Crimestoppers’ regional manager, said: “Alongside Northern Powergrid we are determined to communicate the dangers and disruption caused by theft from the electricity network and help bring down the thieves responsible for these crimes.”

Nigel Walker, Northern Powergrid’s vulnerable assets manager, said: “We want local communities to join us and make a stand against the criminals targeting their area.”