Stealing cable for scrap metal has become a common crime in Britain, with recent thefts disrupting rail service in London and blacking out a village.
Commuters into Liverpool Street Station were delayed Tuesday morning after thieves, under cover of darkness, climbed gantries and removed several hundred feet of cable, the Evening Standard reported. Sparks jumping from the live wires caused a fire, forcing the closing of a section of track.
"It doesn't bear thinking about if one of our staff had come into contact with these cables," a spokesman for National Rail said.
The lights went out Friday evening in Newton-on-Trent in Lincolnshire, The Daily Telegraph reported. Mike Price said he and his wife were about to watch her favorite TV program, "Strictly Come Dancing."
"We cut our losses and went to bed, then we were woken up when the lights came back at around quarter to four," he said. "When we found out it was cable thieves, we were pretty mad. But then you are getting cables stolen from the railway and lead taken from churches, it is pretty sad really."
Karen Taylor of the White Hart Inn said diners were able to finish their meals by candlelight but did not stay around to drink as they might have. The power went off again Saturday, and she said the combined disruptions cost the inn its profit for the weekend.