A THIEF was left red-handed after risking his life to cut down live electrical equipment.
He struck at an outbuilding which was holding the equipment at Alexandra Business Park, in Woodbine Terrace, Pallion.
It is believed the man was nearly electrocuted when the cable sparked as he tried in vain to steal it.
Police today warned of the dangers of trying to cut through live cables.
Neighbourhood inspector Dave Pickett said: “It’s believed the offender will have received an electric shock from the cable and potentially suffered some burns.
“This should act as a warning to thieves that this sort of activity puts their lives at risk and for the sake of a bit of metal, it just isn’t worth it.
“They are putting their lives and the lives of others in danger.
“We’re still carrying out inquiries into the theft and I’d urge anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with information about who is responsible – such as those with unexplained burns or injuries consistent with being thrown to the ground – to contact police.”
The incident is believed to have happened between 4.30pm on Thursday and 3am on Friday.
It comes less than a week after the Echo reported that powerful detonators were taken from railway lines in Sunderland.
Six detonators were stolen from lines near Villette Road, in Hendon.
The explosive devices, which are safe if handled correctly, are designed to be triggered by impact and emit a loud bang when a train passes over them.
They had been placed on the track in order to warn rail maintenance workmen of approaching trains.
Yesterday, a man was jailed for a year for stealing 800 metres of disused cable from a stretch of the East Coast Main Line, near Chester-le-Street.
Kevin Skelton, 21, of Dorset Avenue, Barley Mow, admitted theft at Durham Crown Court.
He was one of a group of men who stole 267kgs of cable.
It was said the overall cost to line operator Network rail was £4,748.
Prosecutors said the cable was sold for £1,068, but Skelton claimed his share was £300.
Mitigating, Paul Cross said the cable taken was redundant and its theft had not caused any disruption to rail services.
He also said that the theft was far from being a “sophisticated operation”.
“He (Skelton) even gave his correct identity at the scrapyard.
“The more sophisticated criminal would have used some form of false identification.”
l Anyone with information about the Woodbine Terrace incident should call Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.