THOUSANDS of homes in Northwood were plunged into darkness last night (6) after a power cut was caused by scrap metal thieves.
EDF Energy, which supplies gas and electricity in the area, says it was forced to cut power to carry out emergency repair work after vital high voltage cables were stolen from a substation in Vicarage Road, Watford.
The outage, which occurred around 9pm, left football fans unable to watch the second half of Arsenal's Champions League quarter-final match against Barcelona.
Firefighters were also forced to make about half a dozen unnecessary trips after fire alarms sounded as a result of the black-out.
Resident John Matthews, of Maxwell Road, Northwood, said: "Just before 9pm last night everything went out, including the street lights, and the only thing that stayed on was the police station.
"The shops and cafes were all in darkness and the diners in Maxwell Road and Green Lane were all standing outside.
"The power didn't come back on until about 1am but luckily my wife had an emergency supply of candles and wind up electrical equipment.
"When I rang EDF this morning (7) I was told more than 10,000 homes had been affected."
EDF confirmed power was restored to the vast majority of customers affected by 1.15am today, and to the final customers at 5.30am.
A spokesperson said: "Anyone enterting a substation, other than our own trained engineers, is risking their lives and the lives of others.
"Safety is of paramount importance and our biggest concern is that thieves risk being electrocuted if they come into contact with high voltage electrical equipment.
"We will press for the prosecution of anyone caught tampering with our networks and will work with the police to help their investigation of this crime.
"We would ask customers to report any suspicious activity to police or our Substation Watch hotline, 0800 587 3243."
Hertfordshire Constabulary is investigating the incident and is asking anyone with information to call 0845 33 00 222.
Were you affected by the power cut last night? Were you furious about missing the football match? Contact Gazette reporter Siba Matti on 07788567259 or email firstname.lastname@example.org