Police and power engineers are appealing for help to find vandals who are risking their lives by messing with electricity power lines.
A spate of attacks in recent days has seen poles set alight and hundreds of homes and thousands of people left without power in the Haywards Heath, Lindfield and Scaynes Hill areas.
Now power engineers have renewed safety warnings following the latest attacks that saw two electricity poles set alight and a metal pipe thrown across live lines near Haywards Heath.
UK Power Networks says those messing around with its network are dicing with death, even without contacting the equipment as electricity can jump gaps.
Colin Barden, head of Network Operations in the South East, said: “Our message is loud and clear: anyone fooling around with electricity could end up paying a very high price.
“Electricity is very useful but it is also incredibly powerful and must be treated with respect to stay safe.
“It can jump gaps so even if they didn’t contact the power line they could be killed.
“We are appealing to the public again to keep a close eye out for anything suspicious around the equipment which brings power to their local community.”
Staff were called out to the East Mascalls Lane area near Lindfield on Saturday following a power cut.
They discovered a wooden pole carrying 11,000 volt cables had been set alight and a metal pipe had been thrown across overhead electricity lines, cutting off supplies.
At 1.12pm, 516 customers in the Lewes Road, Scaynes Hill Road and Orchard Close areas lost electricity.
Engineers restored power in several stages, getting 39 supplies back on at 2.19pm, 245 at 2.36pm, four at 6.30pm and the final 228 at 8.15pm.
Generators were brought in to reconnect power in the quickest way possible while repairs continued.
There was a further incident on Monday night (October 7) when a second pole was set on fire off Brooklands, Haywards Heath, cutting off 704 supplies at 8.50pm.
Engineers rerouted power to 509 customers at 9.19pm, 142 at 10.57pm and the final 53 at 12.26am yesterday.
The attacks follow similar incidents in the same area in June when iron bars were thrown over the overhead power lines.
Comparisons are being drawn with incidents at Ditchling in April when vandals set light to the base of electricity poles. These also caused power cuts affecting hundreds of homes.
Mr Barden added: “Apart from the obvious safety risks, these activities are also disruptive for the community and we need their help to stamp this out.”
The company is helping Sussex Police with its enquiries and arranging local security patrols to help bring those responsible for the damage and disruption to justice.
Inspector Paul Tomlinson, from Sussex Police, said: “Aside from the criminal aspect of these incidents, which we take very seriously, these actions are incredibly reckless and irresponsible and there’s no doubt that they could prove fatal to the offenders or an innocent party.
“We are working closely with UK Power Networks to find those responsible and help prevent further incidents.
“If you see anything suspicious around installations of this type, dial 999 right away.”
The company urges people to report any suspicious activity to police and UK Power Networks on 0800 587 3243.