Acton: Thieves stole 750m of stolen BT cabling, worth £16,000, and left village phone lines dead
16:33 24 February 2014
Up to 500 households in a west Suffolk village have been left without phone lines or internet access, after 753 metres of copper telephone cable was stolen.
Police estimate that the British Telecom (BT) underground cabling, which was cut from between two concrete street cabinets in Sudbury Road, Acton, last Thursday night, is worth about £16,000.
People in Acton and the nearby hamlet of Newmans Green awoke on Friday morning to find their phone lines dead, and they have been told by BT that it could be another week before the problem can be fixed.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that the offence had taken place between Acton and Newmans Green sometime between 5pm on February 20 and 10am the following day. She said: “The offenders have broken into two concrete BT boxes, cut the cabling at both points and taken the wires in between the boxes.
“We have been in touch with BT which has received a large number of complaints. We are investigating via house to house enquiries in the area and are appealing for witnesses.”
Last night, a spokesman for BT confirmed they had suffered malicious cuts and theft of underground cabling, which was affecting some services in the Acton area.
He added: “Engineers have been on site and are in the process of repairing the damage and changing out the damaged sections of cabling.
“They are doing all they can to get this work completed as quickly as possible and to start work to reconnect services, but there is still a lot of complex work to do.
“We have around 230 reported faults from people affected by this attack on the network. We are hoping to have everything restored by the end of the week but will know more once the reconnection jointing works get under way.”
Metal theft is a continuing problem across the UK, according to the spokesman, who said network security is of “paramount importance” to BT. The company uses many security measures in the fight against cable theft, including technology that alerts police within minutes of a cable being cut.
SmartWater – the invisible paint that tags thieves – is also used in hot spot areas. Alarmed cables and other physical network security measures are employed.
BT has also formed a partnership with Crimestoppers to offer up to £1,000 reward for information leading to arrests and subsequent successful convictions relating to cable theft. The company is appealing to people in west Suffolk to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour in or around street cabinets or manhole covers.
Anyone with information about the Acton incident can call PC Johnson on 101.