WIRED

Thieves took their lives in their hands to remove about a mile’s length of ESB lines in Portsalon that were carrying 20,000 volts. This was believed to be the fourth such incident in the area.

Thieves took their lives in their hands to remove about a mile’s length of ESB lines in Portsalon that were carrying 20,000 volts. This was believed to be the fourth such incident in the area.

“Someone is going to be killed,” said a concerned staff member who did not want to be identified. “They’re taking their lives in their hands to remove those lines.”

The thieves appeared to be taking lines connected to premises that had a power supply not currently in use. It is believed the lines are being stolen for the copper they contain. Cables running along the coast would contain a high copper content to prevent erosion.

An ESB spokesperson would confirm only that an incident took place, but not the details of the incident. The spokesperson said the utility “treats any interference with its equipment and electricity systems as an extremely serious matter due to the associated public safety risks, and is engaging with An Garda Síochána regarding this incident.”

There have been isolated incidents reported nationwide, the spokesperson said.

ESB crews were at the scene yesterday to replace the medium-voltage lines, which ran into a holiday home that is up for sale. The house sits along the Knockalla coast road on the Fanad peninsula. People locally said there have been reports of power lines stolen from other locations in the area.

A local resident had noticed cables hanging from one of the poles and contacted ESB. It was not known how long ago the lines were stolen, but it is believed they were stolen when the power was on.

“It’s very dangerous and very brazen to take a line off a pole,” said a local observer. Four ESB vehicles and an all-terrain vehicle were seen at the site yesterday.

“It would have been a very big job over very rough terrain,” the observer said.