METAL theft across Bolton has been reduced by 75 per cent thanks to pioneering new technology from Electricity North West (ENW).

Thieves targeting substations across the borough have been deterred thanks to a new marking trial by the power operator, which was first rolled out last summer.

Valuable copper from substations around the North West is marked with a unique code which cannot be burned off, meaning that if thieves try to sell stolen goods to a scrap yard, police will be alerted.

Signs are also visible at the substations warning thieves that the copper is marked, helping to prevent “dangerous break-ins”.

Since the trial began, ENW, which owns and maintains the regional power network, has seen metal theft crime reduced by 75 per cent in Bolton, from 63 incidents in 2012 reduced to 15 in 2013.

Earlier this month, the company scooped a national accolade for its crack down on metal theft in the region at The National Metal Theft Awards.

Steve Cox, future network manager for Electricity North West, said: “We are delighted to have won this award and would like to thank our partners and our customers across the North West.

“Attempting to steal parts of the electricity network is extremely dangerous and it can also result in customers losing power and cost tens of thousands of pounds to repair the damage.

“We are pleased that the measures we have brought in are having a positive impact and we will continue to work to put a stop to this dangerous crime.”

Superintendent Alison Evans, head of the National Metal Theft Taskforce, which hosted the awards, said: “These awards recognise the efforts of so many organisations and industries to tackle metal theft in all its guises.

“Electricity North West has pioneered new techniques to reduce the number of thefts impacting on its networks and has led the way in sharing best practice with those dedicated to tackling the issue.

“Metal theft has reduced dramatically in recent months — thanks to the work of police and partners in tandem with legislative change — but there is more to be done.”