Power surge wrecks electrics

Christine Rennie in the kitchen of her Gibb Square home
Christine Rennie in the kitchen of her Gibb Square home

ANGRY residents may have to fork out thousands of pounds to replace electrical goods damaged in a power surge caused by “mindless” cable thieves.

Homeowners in Gibb Square, off Northgate, on the Headland, say the theft of wiring at the sub-stations “blew” any electrical items which were plugged in at the time of the power surge.

They said they have had problems with electrical items including their boilers, televisions, fridges, freezers and computers.

They say it will cost them thousands of pounds to replace items, and although electricity firm Northern Powergrid said it will give them £200 in compensation, they will have to go through their insurance to recoup their losses.

Housewife Jeanette Fenwick, 55, had replaced her boiler at a cost of over £1,000 just before Christmas.

The mum of four and grandmother of three said: “I only got a new boiler before Christmas, but all the wiring to it is burned.

“It’s totally broken, I’ve got no hot water and I had to go to my son’s house for a bath this morning.

“I’ve got two televisions that aren’t working, a DVD player, a lap-top, a hair dryer and a freezer.”

Linda Wilson, a 62-year-old with four children and four grand-children, said her television, boiler and DVD player have all broken.

“I’m really annoyed about it,” she said.

“I can’t describe how I feel about the people who did this. It’s just mindless. Apparently they’ll only get about £20 for the wire they’ve stolen and it’s going to cost us all a fortune.

“They’ve caused all this uproar and havoc for £20.”

Mother-of-three and grandmother-of-three Christine Rennie, 62, a shop assistant, said: “My heating system, microwave, alarm clock, television and DVD player have all blown.

“It’s scandalous.”

And mum-of-one Maureen Stringer, 72, and her husband and Freddie Stringer, 70, a retired gas board worker, who also live in Gibb Square, say they will even have to get a new burglar alarm.

Freddie said: “Fortunately we were covered with our boiler so we’ve had a new part put in and it’s working again. We still need a new telly, recorder and a burglar alarm though.”

A spokesman for Northern Powergrid said: “We would like to apologise to customers in Hartlepool that were affected by the metal theft incidents that caused damage to their household appliances. We are keen to help and support our customers during this difficult time.

“Although the damage is due to third-party interference and no liability rests with us for any loss or damage to customers’ equipment, the commitment we have to our customers means we will be offering a voluntary payment of up to £200 to those customers who have notified us of damage to their electrical equipment and are able to provide the evidence to support this.

“Those customers can call our helpline on 0800 2984077.”

John Barnett, director of Northern Powergrid customer service, added: “As a company we feel we have a moral obligation to help and support our customers in circumstances such as these.

“We understand that the reckless actions of metal thieves has had an adverse impact on their lives.

“We will be making goodwill payments to those customers who have been affected to ensure that our customers do not suffer further.”

Anyone with any information on the thieves responsible for the theft on Sunday night should contact Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.