19 May 2023

Greater Manchester

Axe-wielding vandals cheat death at 6,600-volt electricity substation

Electricity North West's Chris Armstrong and Mike Darvill

Axe-wielding vandals have cheated death after smashing through an electricity substation door and tampering with powerful equipment.

The incident happened last week in Rochdale and despite making away with very little, the culprits caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the 6,600-volt substation that powers the local area.  

Electricity supplies to more than 1,200 properties in the area were cut as a result of the damage as engineers from the region’s power network operator, Electricity North West, responded to make the site safe and restore power.

Upon attending site, engineers found smashed locks, panels to high-voltage electrical equipment forced off and several fuses removed. The interference caused a ‘flashover’ which generates intense heat and bright ultra-violet light that can cause serious injury.

Chris Armstrong, Electricity North West’s Area Operations Manager for Greater Manchester, said: “This is an incredibly serious incident, substations contain powerful equipment, and the culprit is lucky to be alive.

“We have yellow ‘danger of death’ signs on our equipment for a reason and it’s vital that people take notice and stay away.

“Thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused and it was all for nothing. This is an incredibly frustrating situation, safety is a number one priority in our line of work and I can’t stress enough, members of the public should not enter substations. The scrap value would have been so small anyway, it’s seriously not worth risking your life for.

“Much of our equipment has special markings too so it’s not exactly easy to sell on and whenever we have a break in we involve the police immediately and notify local scrap yards.”

Engineers have confirmed the culprit gained entry to the substation by using an axe to break through the locks and solid wooden door.

Electricity North West alerted Greater Manchester Police immediately and Crime Scene Investigators attended the site and are currently investigating.

Should anybody have any information, they should call Greater Manchester Police and quote log number 1977.