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9 Attacks on Openreach Cables in London Prompt £20k Reward

Thursday, October 1st, 2020 (1:36 pm) - Score 8,016
copper vs fibre optic openreach engineer

Back in August we reported on a spate of copper telecoms cable thefts (Metal Theft) in East London, which had disrupted broadband ISP and phone connectivity on Openreach’s (BT) UK network for those living nearby (here). After a ninth attack the reward for information has now been raised from £1k to £20k.

The high price of copper tends to fuel such attacks, which despite the COVID-19 pandemic, seem to have become all too common over the past year (here, here, here and here). As usual the perpetrators, who typically drag the cable forcefully out of the ground – ripping out all of its connections and damaging the network kit as they go, have no regard for the often significant impact they can have on local residents and businesses.

Metal theft like this tends to occur via organised gangs, which target critical infrastructure in areas where they know the police response is likely to be slower. As such we were a little surprised to find that it had recently become so common around the East London area of Thamesmead, which has sadly seen a wave of repeated attacks.

The latest incident occurred on 2nd September 2020 at New Road/Lesnes Abbey Woods (SE2). As usual the damage left hundreds of premises in the area without use of their phone lines, broadband and some TV services, which took a while to fully resolve. A total of 9 attacks have now occurred over a three month period and thus the reward has just been increased to £20,000.

Richard Ginnaw, Openreach Senior Security Manager, said:

“These incidents have really affected the local community in Thamesmead, especially at a time when people are still being encouraged to maintain social distancing. Not having access to broadband and telephony services seriously affects everyone’s ability to do things online, as well as stay in touch and check in on loved ones. Our engineering teams are working as quickly as possible to restore service following the thefts.

We’re also working very closely with local policing teams to catch those who are responsible and are deploying additional security enhancements across the area, but we also need your help.

Please be vigilant and if you saw anything suspicious on or around the time of the incidents, report it to the police, or if you prefer to be anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers.”

The police believe it’s possible that the criminals responsible for these incidents are from outside the immediate area (well.. that’s a start) and may originate from either London or Kent, which doesn’t help to narrow it down much.

Clearly none of the “additional security enhancements” being deployed by Openreach have so far been enough to completely stop this particular gang. But the more they do it, the harsher the punishment will be when they’re eventually caught.

We should point out that newer FTTP broadband networks aren’t worth anything to such thieves, but this doesn’t completely stop the activity because some gangs will still rip out fibre optic cables on the assumption that they might actually be copper.

Naturally if anybody has any information on these thefts then you should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or use the online form – everyone stays 100% anonymous. Information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible will attract the reward.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT says:

    Hope they aren’t from Kent. Will have to initiate extradition proceedings if they don’t catch them by the end of the year.

    1. Avatar TheTruth says:

      I hear they may be from Leeds

  2. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Lets keep it politically correct here with no mention of gypsies eh!

    1. Avatar Colin says:

      There are several sites within 1 mile of all these theft incidents.

  3. Avatar Ray says:

    If you don’t want ppl stealing copper the. Just opt in for FTTP for everyone it’s not hard is it? What is the point of having ADSL and VDSL at this day and age… What they need to do is stop this utter s*** and go with the best

    1. Avatar Fastman says:

      ridiculous

      lets put 300+ copper only Service providers out of busiess and break every Ofcom rule (about disadvanting service provider) in the book because Ray say so

      PS what happens when they steal the fibre thinking its copper (that happends as well)

      this forum gets more delusional every day

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      They are but there is also this reality that to build FTTP takes 10-15 years.

    3. Avatar Leex says:

      They still cut the fibre any way (they can’t tell what the colours mean on the cable to indicated fibre)

  4. Avatar MC says:

    East London – Jeez lets not tarnish us East Londoners with them from South East London. Its another world.

    1. Avatar Grazza says:

      I doubt they are actually Londoners and most likely originate from certain sites in Kent a few of which have been raided recently and all sorts have been found including 30 stolen dogs!!!!

  5. Avatar J says:

    ‘a while’is two words.

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