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Criminals Attack Openreach’s Network in Witchford.. AGAIN

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 (9:31 am) - Score 2,880
openreach 2017 engineer jacket

Broadband and phone services have been disrupted for a second time in the Witchford area of Cambridgeshire (England) after thieves caused “significant damage” by cutting through one of Openreach’s secure boxes. But it’s unclear what, if anything, was actually stolen as a result of this attack.

Last month, around 1,000 premises suffered a protracted service outage after criminal scum ripped up and stole some of Openreach’s underground copper cables (here). The operator has confirmed that the latest attack took place “in the same vicinity as an earlier cable theft in December.” As usual, the perpetrators have no regard for the significant harm they cause.

A Spokesperson for Openreach said (Cambridgeindependent): “We’re investigating and have made arrangements for engineers to be on site first thing [today] to start repairs. We’re very sorry for this loss of service, and we’re working to get residents reconnected as quickly as possible. It’s really disappointing that local people are once again bearing the brunt of criminal behaviour. We’d ask anyone who noticed anything suspicious to contact the police.”

Sadly, it’s not unusual for gangs to target the same area more than once, which is a trend that we’ve seen before. Openreach often offers a small reward (usually £1,000) for information that results in the arrest and conviction of those responsible, although it’s unclear whether that applies to this incident. Anybody who can help should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or use the online form – everyone stays 100% anonymous.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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23 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    These people are attacking the UK’s infrastructure. As such they should be treated like terrorists IMHO.

    1. GaryH says:

      And yet, If caught what will be the charge/penalty ? Criminal damage and a 3 month suspended sentence, they’ll be heartbroken.

    2. Sam P says:

      Come on, that’s a bit extreme.

      It’s thieves wanting to profit from the valuable metals (copper).
      This is been going on for decades and is nothing new.

      You can’t really compare someone wanted to blow up innocent people with someone stealing cables out the ground.

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      But people can die because of this….

    4. Sam P says:

      If someone stole the Catalytic converter off an ambulance which would immobilize it, you wouldn’t label the thief a terrorist. I can’t believe I’m even having to explain this. Unreal.

  2. Aled says:

    Will they replace the copper with fibre?

    1. John says:

      No. You can’t connect fibre where copper used to be.
      You need active equipment to do that.

      Even when Openreach roll out fibre they don’t replace the existing copper with fibre.

      The engineers task is to restore services as quickly as possible.
      It takes months, lots of planning and many hundreds of man hours to change an area to full fibre.
      An overnight copper theft doesn’t change that.

    2. 3Mbit says:

      John is right.
      We get 3Mbit downloads here, and BT replaced the cable all the way back to the cabinet with copper. The village is full fibre optic with both BT and Fibrus. Then Fibrus installed fibre on the exact same poles as BT use within a few days in October, but no one cannot order it.
      The BT USO team quoted me £65,000 for fibre (before Fibrus won the Project Stratum tender), not bad for what appears to be less than a weeks work.

    3. GNewton says:

      @3Mbit: “Then Fibrus installed fibre on the exact same poles as BT use within a few days in October, but no one cannot order it.”

      So why then don’t you order a FTTP service?

    4. 3Mbit says:

      @GNewton: It looks like they want to do the whole area in one go. This was done as part of Project Stratum. So the only provider is Fibrus. It was not live on the Fibrus sales system so they could not sell it. It looks like it will be soon though.

  3. awelshman says:

    with a bit of luck they will be electrocuted with the mains in the cabs

    1. anonymous says:

      And then there will be an out of reality Judge who will say its BT fault for not protecting the mains circuit enough or some other tosh.

      Unfortunately, law and order is useless in this country now; so called sentences that are too low as prison’s full, or serving half or less sentence time for “good behaviour”….Prison for a number of people is heated accommodation, with meals served at clockwork times and other facility uses like TV and knowledge sharing….and tax payers funding it with many on bread-line for their own meals.

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      I agree completely. If they built new prisons to house criminals and gave them sandwiches daily and made them spend 23hrs a day in their cells and they had no tv or educational perks they wouldn’t be so keen to use them as a hotel service.

      Still with our criminal “injustice” system, they’d probably need to have a wrap sheet or 20 offences or more to get banged up anyway?

  4. Random Precision says:

    @Buggerlugz even when you lock them up it costs on average £800 a week to keep someone in prison. Who pays for that? You and I the taxpayer‍♂️

    1. Gary says:

      £800 / 32,500,000 people. “Go figure”.

      So it’s essentially nothing to the taxpayer in that respect.

    2. anonymous says:

      Most working age households consume more resources than they pay for through taxation. Very approximately half of those of working age contribute nothing to the cost of imprisoning people, they’re net recipients from the tax pool.

      Include the liabilities from pension and healthcare in retirement and the numbers get even worse.

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      Maybe we should start sending them to Australia again then?

    4. John says:

      That’s why I think they need to do a referendum on bringing back death penalty, the criminals coming in from middle-east and other parts of the world, where they got tough justice, this place is just too weak, where the law has no teeth…

      Also with the population crisis, nobody will miss a few hard criminals and peodos and terrorists. And also they need to start getting the prison population to earn and pay for their way in prison. In Asia prisoners work to pay back the state and learn a proper lesson.

  5. binary says:

    Mark, I must say that having just read this, the use of emotive language such as “criminal scum” really doesn’t feel befitting for inclusion in a news story on ISP Review.

    A simple “criminals” or “thieves” is all that’s needed.

    In terms of copper cable theft affecting lots of people and disrupting their lives, alas telecoms is hardly unique in being hit – it is a common occurence on the railways.

    1. GaryH says:

      And the people doing it to the Rail system are Criminal Scum. Calling these people Scum isn’t ’emotive’ it’s descriptive and accurate.

      There are many other words Mark could replace Scum with that would be accurate but unsuitable for a news piece

    2. David says:

      Scum is rather accurate. So what else do you suggest he replaces it with? ars3h0les?

  6. Random Precision says:

    @Gary Prison population England and Wales approx 85,000 costing an average of £800 each week for each prisoner, you go figure.

    1. anonymous says:

      Central government spent about £750 billion last year, local government another £137 billion.

      I think we can afford £3.5 billion on criminal justice.

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