METAL thieves plunged hundreds of Blackpool homes into darkness by stealing LIVE electricity cables.
The callous crooks risked electrocution as they tore copper cable out of a substation which helps power a large part of the Grange Park estate.
More than 360 homes were left without electricity for five hours on Saturday night.
Grange Park Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Stuart Grimes today said residents were furious.
And utilities bosses said the thieves – who smashed through a wall – were lucky not to kill themselves.
The Fylde coast has been blighted in recent months by thieves stealing copper which can be sold on for large profits on the blackmarket.
Jane Fleetwood, Electricity North West response manager, said: “This crime could have been fatal for the vandals.
“It has caused hundreds of customers to lose their electricity supply and caused thousands of pounds of damage.
“It is incredibly stupid to try to steal live electricity cables.
“Our engineers were at the scene very quickly, but had a huge amount of work to do to make the site safe and repair the damaged equipment.
“We worked through the night to restore power as soon as possible, including having to rebuild a brick wall that the vandals had smashed to gain access.
“The police are aware of the incident and I urge anyone who has any information to contact them.”
The thieves struck at 8pm on Saturday. Power was restored at 1am.
Police confirmed the thieves used a ladder to get on top of the station on Poulton Road, before kicking brickwork out.
They then turned off a master switch and cut the cabling away, before breaking out through the front door.
Watch co-ordinator Stuart Grimes said: “Anyone with a brain cell would know to stay well away from a substation.
“They’re obviously very stupid and there could have been several fatalities. It’s not only them – it’s the elderly people affected who rely on the electricity as well.
“Residents are up in arms about this. It’s ridiculous.”
Other recent targets of metal thieves include Blackpool Model Village, Collegiate High School and Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court.
Even brass taps used by people to water their floral tributes at Fleetwood Cemetery were stolen.
The latest theft follows the release of shocking footage in Castlefield, West Yorkshire, where a house exploded after a thief stole copper wiring and tampered with electricity and gas supplies.
Firefighters had just finished evacuating 30 people from the street after six fires started in six terraced homes.
A huge blast engulfed one property, injuring two firefighters in the process and partly demolishing two houses.
Lancashire Police figures for the year to March show 3,014 metal theft crimes in Lancashire – a staggering 48.3 per cent rise on the previous 12 months.