Scottish Power sets aside £20,000 for rewards to stop metal thefts
One of Scotland's largest power firms has set aside £20,000 to offer rewards for information which lead to metal thieves being caught.
Scottish Power said about 20 incidents had been reported across central Scotland in just over two weeks.
These include thefts at Milngavie, Dalry, Shotts, Falkirk, Kilbarchan, Larkhall and Slamannan.
In one incident, 1,500 homes suffered a blackout after a truck hit a power line brought down over a road.
Guy Jefferson, network operations director at Scottish Power Energy Networks, said: "Metal theft is one of the biggest threats to the safety of the electricity network, and the impact of these crimes can be devastating.
"In recent years we have witnessed house fires and damaged electrical appliances in homes."'Horrific burns'
He added: "One man died recently attempting to steal copper from an electricity pole in Lanarkshire, and others have suffered horrific burns, loss of limbs and scarring."
Scottish Power said there had been more than 850 metal thefts on its network since January 2011.
One incident last year from a substation in Greenock resulted in two serious house fires and more than 200 properties suffering a blackout.
In 2011, a botched cable theft in Glasgow saw a 30-minute power outage for 50,000 properties in the city's south side.
Mr Jefferson added: "We continue to increase our own security measures, and work closely with the police and other industries affected by this crime.
"I'd urge anyone who spots suspicious behaviour near our power lines to report what they have seen to the police."