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Suspected metal thief badly burned

A man is "very lucky to be alive" following a suspected copper cable theft attempt in which a saw was used to cut through a live wire carrying 11,000 volts, police said.

A 25-year-old man attended Leeds General Infirmary in the early hours of Tuesday morning with serious burns to his face, hands and chest, West Yorkshire Police said.

Officers believe the man was injured in an explosion when a saw was used to cut into a live cable at a bridge over the River Aire in Redcote Lane, Leeds, at about 12.15am.

His injuries are not considered to be life threatening but it is expected his recovery will take several months, a police spokesman said.

Police are warning thieves of the dangers of targeting electrical cables for valuable copper.

Detective Inspector Richard Partis said: "Medical opinion and that of the electricity firm is that this man is very lucky to be alive. This incident could very easily have resulted in his death and that of another man who was with him at the time.

"We believe they thought the cable was not live and contained copper that could be sold for scrap. This incident should demonstrate to people the risks they are taking targeting electrical cables in this way.

"There is no way of telling by sight if a cable is live or not and the risk of death or serious injury is obviously very high."

Engineers were called out to the scene and made the damaged cable safe.

Britain has been hit by a plague of metal thefts in recent years as the Asian construction and manufacturing boom has pushed up the prices of raw materials. Thieves routinely rip long sections of copper cable from the side of railway lines, risking their lives and causing massive disruption to the transport network.

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