POLICE have hit out at metal thieves for the damage they could have caused after targeting a sewage station.
Crooks knocked out the electricity supply after cutting through cables at the pumping station in the early hours of Sunday.
It meant raw sewage could have flooded onto the beach and streets of Hartlepool as pipes could not pump the sewage to treatment works.
Two men were spotted running away from the compound at Brus Corner on West View Road, Hartlepool, at around 2.15am yesterday.
It comes as police and partner agencies step up their efforts on metal thieves who are “dismantling” Hartlepool to make some quick cash through Operation Guardian.
Inspector Mick Brown of Hartlepool Police said: “The potential impact this could have had on the environment and to the local infrastructure was very serious.
“We are facing this more and more which is why we set up Operation Guardian to target those who are in essence dismantling Hartlepool for valuable metal.”
Manhole covers, live electric cables and gas metres are among a host of essential items being stolen.
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and churches are forced to fork out hard to come-by cash and residents, sometimes elderly, are left facing large repair bills.
The latest break in caused an overflow valve to open at the pumping station which could have resulted in filth flooding on to the beach or throughout the area.
Northumbrian Water worked to repair the damage and avert the risk of flooding.
Police are also appealing to their partners including scrap firms to help them tackle the growing problem of metal thefts.
Insp Brown added: “Where it’s obviously apparent that people are trying to weigh in scrap metal we need people to contact us.
“The benefits they may receive are considerably less than the impact it has and the cost to replace it especially in these times of austerity.”
The men seen running away from the pumping station are described as between 5ft 6in and 5ft and 8ins tall, slim and wore dark clothing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Tom McLeod on (01642) 326326.