TRADE ground to a halt at Linlithgow’s oldest bakery on Monday after a cable theft threatened one of their biggest weeks of the year and cost them £15,000.
Oliphants was forced to close its two shops in Linlithgow and one in Bo’ness when thieves cut the power and stole 40 metres of electrical cabling at their Whitecross industrial estate base on Sunday evening.
The site also suffered an attempted break-in last Thursday (June 14) between 1.30pm and 9pm. Nothing was taken, but the bakery owners believe the thieves were scoping out the area before stealing the cable on Sunday between 4-7pm.
A devastated spokesman for Oliphants said: “People broke into the substation about 100 yards away from Kilbean Electrical Company next door to us and switched the power off.
‘‘They took a saw to the power cable and stole 40 metres of Scottish Power cable costing around £6000.
‘‘They knew what they were doing and could have taken more but they were disturbed by the cleaner, which was a safety risk for her also.”
Because of the theft, Oliphants had to remain closed in Linlithgow on Monday, the day before the Marches - one of their biggest days of the year.
He added: “We have 80-100 wholesale customers that had orders in, so this was a big loss to us although we opened on Tuesday and they were very understanding.
‘‘We are now dealing with the insurance company but the total cost of this runs to £15,000 due to loss of business and the cabling, and it will drive our insurance premiums up.”
The spokesman thanked the local community which rearranged orders, offered help and made this year’s Marches one of the best ever despite the theft.
He added: “The customers have been fantastic. This company has been here for 156 years and this is terrible.
‘‘The thieves don’t care and somebody has been able to determine when we are not there.
‘‘This is an isolated area and we have cameras, but when the power was cut, they stopped working.
“There are 40 people employed here and this is something that we cannot sustain if it happened again.
‘‘It would be tragic for something to happen because of this. It’s a difficult economic situation anyway and we are totally devastated.”
He praised Kilbean Electrical Company who connected new cable on Monday and restored power. The cable, which was previously overground, has now been buried to help ensure it is not cut again.
He added that the police were going to carry out regular checks, saying: “This affects a lot of people and concerns people of the town who see other bakeries folding and they worry ours will be next.”
One of their wholesale customers is the Picnic Cafe in South Queensferry.
A cafe spokesman said: “We just had to improvise and get things elsewhere but it was awful for them.
‘‘They are brilliant and we love what they produce. In South Queensferry, people treat us as if we are a bakery as they come here for their rolls!”
A spokeswoman for Central Scotland Police said inquiries were continuing into the incident last Thursday and they were also investigating the cable theft at Whitecross Industrial Park.