COPPER thieves caused £5,000 worth of damage to new street lighting scheme.

Council officials in Hartlepool are hoping to catch the thieves who took 150 metres of copper cable from Old Cemetery Road sometime between Friday, July 8 and Monday, July 11.

The suspects broke into a control box, isolated the power and cut the buried cable before dragging it out of the ground.

Rob Daley, Hartlepool Council’s Public Lighting Officer, said: “The thieves must have had some kind of equipment or a wagon to actually wrench the cable from the ground.

“They wouldn’t have been able to do this quickly and I reckon they will have been at the scene for a couple of hours. I’m hoping that someone will recall seeing them and be able to provide us or the police with useful information.

“Perhaps someone has tried to sell copper cable at a scrap yard in the town and, again, we would welcome any information."

Mr Daley said the thieves had put themselves at risk of serious injury or even death by tampering with the electrics and the 415-volt cable.

He added: “It is so disappointing that the Council’s efforts to improve street lighting in this area of the town should be undermined in this way.

“Although this area is quite isolated, we would urge residents who live nearby, dog walkers and joggers to act as our eyes and ears and to always report any suspicious activity.”

Anyone with information about the theft can contact Mr Daley on 01429-523593 or Cleveland Police on 101.