BOSSES at a dog track were forced to cancel a race night after thieves ripped out power cables, causing thousands of pounds of damage.
Easington Greyhound Stadium had to scrap its 10-race programme on Wednesday after 120 metres of armoured copper cable leading to the arena, along with other metal, was taken from its substation.
Staff at the track are working hard to ensure Sunday’s night racing goes ahead.
Joe Atkinson, who runs the stadium with wife Carol, two full-time workers and six part-time staff, has been told the repair bill so far stands at £8,000 – all for cable with scrap value of about £400.
The bill will not be picked up by insurers, leaving the Atkinsons to pay.
Joe, who has run the site for the last 17 years, said: “They’re scum, that’s what I’d describe them as. There are plenty of jobs out there. They don’t need to do this, but it’s easier for them to knack something else up than do that.”
He added that his wife’s support had helped see him during the last few days and he praised the team for their efforts to get the operation running again.
The Atkinsons thought a fuse had blown when they arrived at the stadium on Tuesday morning and found the fridge in the canteen was off and then discovered the buildings had no power.
When they were told by their power supplier there was no fuse problem, fault checks found the damage.
The thieves began to hack through a live cable, which started to melt, and it is thought they then managed to work out where to cut off the supply to the whole system.
Part of the difficulties the owners have faced in reinstating the supply have been caused because the ageing equipment is no longer in production.
Further damage would have been caused had the thieves been able to gain access to the stadium grounds and tear up more cable.
Mr Atkinson said: “I don’t think we would have recovered from that.”
It is believed the theft may have happened between 9.30pm and 11pm on Monday as family members living nearby reported their guard dog barking.
Mr Atkinson added: “This wasn’t a two-bicycle job – they would have needed a van.”
The stadium attracts about 750 punters each week. Updates on Sunday’s racing will be posted on the stadium’s website, www.easingtondogs.co.uk
Anyone with information which could help the police investigation is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 0345 60 60 365 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.