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Cable theft takes 4000 homes and businesses offline in Byfleet
Thursday 21 July 2011 17:46:43 by John Hunt

Residents and businesses in the Byfleet area (Surrey) may be suffering from telephone and broadband disruption due to a cable theft in the area which has left significant numbers of people offline and without a phone service. A chainsaw was used to cut through cable to take sections out, and has reportedly affected over 4000 lines. Copper cable theft is increasingly becoming a problem and causing many headaches for service providers like BT who operate networks. The work to install new cable and reconnect lines that have been affected is a painstaking job.

"The BT network in the Byfleet area was subjected to a significant attack by cable thieves in the early hours of Thursday morning. Significant numbers of customers may be experiencing a loss of telephone and broadband service at the present time. Our engineers are on-scene and will be working around the clock to restore service on affected lines, and we will issue further information as it becomes available. Anyone with information relating to this crime should contact the police or crimestoppers (0800 555 111) immediately."

BT Statement

Local service provider and datacentre operator 4D Data Centres has come to the rescue of businesses on the adjacent Wintersells Business Park by providing free Wi-Fi Internet access connected to its own network which was not affected by the BT outage.

"We've got plenty of spare capacity on our 10Gbps fibre connectivity, so it's the least we could do for local firms who've had their businesses disrupted by the outage."

David Barker, Technical Director, 4D Data Centres

Unfortunately every neighborhood suffering from cable theft doesn't have the benefit of a datacentre next to it and this most recent problem in Byfleet is just the latest of recent spate of issues. A village in north Lincolnshire has had cables stolen three times in the past two weeks causing a repeated problem for business and users in the area. Last year BT announced the use of SmartWater to tag cables so that when they are sold on, police can trace the cable. Users in Byfleet are likely to be without service until tomorrow evening at the earliest, with some people told not to expect service restored until Sunday.


Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Cable Thieves only get 2-3yrs in jail probably out in half that time, not much of a deterrent really
Posted by NuttyMucker over 5 years ago
Replace all copper with fibre then :)
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
lol... obviously
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@NuttyMucker:Sadly the ignorant scum that nick cables like this can't tell the difference :-/
Posted by darren_mccoy over 5 years ago
BT could sell their cables to pay for the fibre. I wonder how long it will be till people in not spot/ slow spots, start doing this every week until they get a decent upgrade?
Posted by g6jns over 5 years ago
The cables in my village in Somerset have been stolen three times in two months. BT's response to improving security has been pathetic. According to the local bT manger the cables are cut up and shipped abroad in containers within a day of being stolen. Smart Water will be useless unless the thieves are caught in the UK. The same manhole has been used three times and there is no security to prevent access. Quite hopeless.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
wonder if the people on the wifi will want to go back to their slow copper connections after a taste of something better?
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
darren, its not as simple as "test replace with fibre"... oh look these fibre bits don't connect and talk to the kit that the copper bits did? Why did no-one on thinkbb mention that, bah.

g6jns, so the whole theft thing is BT's fault then?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Ummm.... these are the power cables, these have to be copper.... not enough copper in phone lines to be worth the effort...
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
Just re-checked copper prices... good grief they're over $10k/ton, even individual phone lines "might" get a profit at this price.
Posted by wirelesspacman over 5 years ago
I was in Jordan last year on a project for one of the big mobile operators. They told me that they have a continual problem with breakages (aka cable theft) on their fibre optic backhaul links. Doesn't seem to matter how much they tell everyone they are fibre not copper!
Posted by BIORAPTOR over 5 years ago
Corruption of the soul is a fate that be\faults the weak..
While this behavior stinks it comes to no surprise what some people will do for $$££.
Posted by Scubaholic over 5 years ago
Sure there probably more that BT could do but this is a problem for the Electric Co.'s, Railways, even traffic/street lights.
The question is why aren't The Police doing more {oh, according to the recent hearing the Met Police can only catch criminals that co-operate with them]or hasn't anyone thought to install CCTV!
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 5 years ago
Yes its bloody irresponsible, I know slightly off utilities, however I almost fell down water drain, not so long ago as the cover had whipped away.
Posted by New_Londoner over 5 years ago
If there have been these recent instances of cable theft, what are the local community doing about it? Has anyone there heard of Neighbourhood Watch?
Posted by g6jns over 5 years ago
The basic problem is neither BT, the Police or NW have the resources to mount a 24/7 watch on tens of thousands of access points to the cables. It is interesting to note that the small cables in the access point have been ignored each time a theft has occurred.
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