Thieves in Wanganui are risking death by cutting copper wire from live electricity networks.

Powerco's network in Wanganui was the target of a spate of copper thefts on Thursday night.

The thieves had cut copper out of the live electricity network with the likely intention of selling it for scrap, Powerco Network operations manager Phil Marsh said.

He said about 80 customers could have experienced interruptions to their power supply, but more worrying was that network safety had been compromised.


"These thieves are putting themselves at risk as well as the people of Wanganui by cutting out copper components designed to ensure the network is safe."

Mr Marsh said it was less common for thieves to target urban areas,, and tampering with the network in highly populated areas posed a risk to more people.

He said Powerco's field staff and electricity consumers were put at risk of serious shock or even electrocution.

"Powerco has acted to make the network safe and we have people out looking to identify if any other parts of the network have been damaged by these thieves, who are looking to make a few quick bucks."

Mr Marsh urged members of the public to be vigilant and report suspicious behaviour, either to Powerco on 0800 769 372 or to police.