Thieves have stolen copper cables from sports grounds across Whittlesea in recent months, disrupting match schedules and costing the council tens of thousands of dollars.

Since October, the council has received reports of thefts and attempted thefts of copper cables from sports field lighting systems at five reserves.

Epping’s Harvest Home Road soccer facility was targeted on two separate occasions, with Mernda’s Waterview Recreation Reserve, Mill Park Lakes, Lalor’s Partridge Street Reserve, and South Morang’s Hillsview Reserve also hit.

Mayor Lawrie Cox said he was disgusted vandals were having such an impact on sports clubs and community facilities.

He said clubs had been forced to cancel training sessions, games and functions because there reserves had no lighting.

As reported by Star Weekly, Mernda Cricket Club was forced to relocate matches and reschedule training sessions after thieves attempted to steal underground copper cables on October 30.

“These selfish individuals have caused months of disruption to local sporting clubs, as well as costing tens of thousands of dollars,” Cr Cox said.

“While we do have insurance to cover the cost of repairs, there is still a cost to ratepayers in terms of money, time and effort to have them repaired.”

The council has increased patrols at recreation reserves and is urging residents who live near, or exercise at, community reserves to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour.

“Some of these people are posing as workers, including in high-visibility uniforms, so it can be hard to tell just who the thieves are,” Cr Cox said.

Mill Park police said there was no suggestion the thefts were related.

Police said two men were arrested in at a property in Gillwell Road, Lalor, in the early hours of Wednesday morning for attempting to steal copper pipes.

Police said the men were in possession of equipment to cut copper pipes.

Anyone with information about the thefts of copper cables from sporting reserves is being asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.