The Moore County Sheriff’s office held a press conference Sunday afternoon to update the public on widespread power outages this weekend impacting 40,000 homes and businesses across the sandhills region of central North Carolina. Early reports from police indicate that the power outages are the result of vandalism.

Police are investigating the outage as a “criminal occurrence” after finding evidence of intentional damage at substations. It started Saturday evening as communities across the area started to have power outages, including the popular tourist destination of Pinehurst, N.C.

“Last night, unknown individuals vandalized at least two substations in Moore County with criminal intent,” said Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC8 in a statement Sunday morning. “Motive for this crime remains unknown. Many Moore County residents remain without power. I want to thank Sheriff Ronnie Fields and all local law enforcement as well as the SBI and FBI for their quick action to respond to the incident. I have also been in contact with Duke Energy and know they are working on all options to restore power as quickly as possible.”

The press conference Sunday can be viewed on the Moore County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

According to Hudson, the Southern Pines Police Department has opened its doors to the public for charging electronic devices. Harris Teeter is distributing free ice to customers who are still without power. Local officials have posted that the hospital and sewer and water systems are operating on backup generators. Power outages can be reported to