Thieves plunged a Leeds road into darkness stealing lamp-post cabling worth a total of £200,000.
The raiders, who could have caused serious accidents, struck over more than a mile of the East Leeds Link Road, east of Cross Green, Leeds.
The thieves may have masqueraded as workmen dressed in flourescent waistcoats to deflect suspicion as they repeatedly returned to the dual carriageway and attacked the lamp-posts.
They broke into the lamp-posts on either side of the recently constructed A63 dual carriageway which links Pontefract Lane to the M1.
All the lamps on the outbound carriageway were attacked over a mile and others on the city bound side were also targeted during several raids leaving the isolated road in semi-darkness.
Experts believe they used a vehicle to not only carry away the valuable copper cabling, but also to pull it out of the ground.
When the cabling snagged underground, the thieves dug down and to release it.
Police think it likely the thieves struck during the night and had the technical confidence to carry out the theft when the lamps were illuminated.
Police have increased patrols and made checks with scrap metal dealers.
Insp Nick Smart,said: “We’ve seen a number of incidents recently where people stealing high voltage electric cable have been killed or badly burned. Anyone who saw suspicious should contact PC David Lund at Killingbeck via: 0845 60 60 60 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously on: 0800 555 111.
Council executive member for development Coun Richard Lewis said:“These acts are not only putting the lives of drivers at risk, but also the lives of anyone walking along a section of road which is being left in darkness and with live electrical cables exposed.”