THIEVES breaking into electricity stations across the county cut power eight times to hundreds of homes.

Metal thieves are being blamed, for damaging eight primary substations in the past three weeks.

The substations, which have up to 33,000 volts of electricity running through thm, were in Kennington, Kidlington, Wheatley, Wantage, Deddington, Eynsham, Berinsfield, and Cholsey, near Wallingford.

It is understood that copper and aluminium has been stolen.

Southern Electric said the attacks had resulted in hundreds of homes and businesses losing power each time.

And while the company was unable to give dates for each crime, it said an incident at Kennington on Wednesday, January 13 had affected 120 homes.

Company spokesman Morven Smith said the thieves had known how to switch off the power before stealing valuable metals.

She said: “The people who are targeting these substations possibly have an understanding of what is in them, but they are still endangering their lives.”

Austin Cobb, Southern Electric’s Oxford network operation’s manager, based in Yarnton, said: “These are stupid and mindless acts of vandalism.

“Vandalising electrical equipment is reckless, even potentially deadly.

“It is only a matter of time before someone loses their life.

“The people carrying out these break-ins are not only putting their own lives at risk, they are risking the lives of the public and our engineers – all for their own gain.

“These incidents have resulted in the loss of power to many of our customers, some of whom are old or vulnerable. This is as thoughtless and selfish as it gets.”

Thames Valley Police is looking into whether the incidents are linked.

Ch Insp Andy Boyd said: “We have received reports that electricity substations have been broken into.

“It is possible that these offences could be linked and we will be looking into and following up every line of enquiry.

“Although the offences have been carried out in different areas of the county, we will be working closely with each of the policing teams from the different areas to ensure we carry out a thorough investigation and bring whoever is responsible to justice.”

Mr Cobb said: “We work extremely hard and invest millions of pounds, year on year, to make sure that people’s lights stay on, but incidents likes these make our job a lot harder.

“I’d ask everyone to be vigilant and report anything that they consider to be suspicious to police.”

Anyone with information about any of the offences should call police on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.