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Copper Cable Thieves Cut Broadband in Lincolnshire UK Village UPDATE

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022 (4:13 pm) - Score 2,856

The Lincolnshire Police are appealing for witnesses after criminals ripped up 1,000 metres worth of Openreach’s (BT) copper broadband and phone cable from Mareham Lane in Scredington, south of Sleaford. As a result, local homes and businesses in the village are said to have been left cut-off for days.

Sadly, attacks against critical UK telecoms infrastructure are not uncommon in the UK, with a spate of similar (Metal Theft) incidents recently striking one area in Cambridgeshire (here). It probably doesn’t help that the price of copper remains stubbornly high, which makes it more attractive to dodgy scrap metal merchants. But as usual, the perpetrators involved have no regard for the significant harm they cause to local people.

The theft itself happened at around 8.30pm on the 27th January 2022 and the police believe the “offenders may have been along the side of the road while they stole the cables, and they may have had a van working at night in a remote location.” Officers are now undertaking extra visible patrols overnight in a number of rural locations.

Lincolnshire Police said:

“We have now opened an investigation and would like to ask anyone with any information about this incident, or who may have witnessed it, to come forward.

The offenders may have been along the side of the road while they stole the cables, and they may have had a van working at night in a remote location.

We are keen to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time of the offence, as well as any information about vans carrying large amounts of cable in the surrounding area. We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have dashcam footage which could help our enquiries.”

Anybody with information that could assist the investigation is being asked to call 101, while quoting “incident 170 of 28 January“, or you can email force.control@lincs.police.uk. Alternatively, those who wish to remain anonymous can give a report via the independent charity CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111 or online. We have also asked Openreach for an update on their repairs and will report back once that arrives.

We should point out that the new generation of optical fibre cables in FTTP broadband networks have no value to such thieves, but this doesn’t always prevent cable thefts from occurring because the gangs will sometimes target those by mistake. Copper and fibre lines can sometimes also share the same duct, thus damage to one can sometimes impact the other.

UPDATE 4:19pm

Openreach informs that, contrary to the police report, the criminals actually stole a whopping 2,000 metres of cable (this is the thick copper in their ducts, not those thin pairs that enter your home) and around 180 properties have been affected. Little wonder that services have yet to be restored, as the operator will need to both replace all that cable and then repair the related network damage.

A spokesperson for Openreach said:

“It’s really disappointing that local people here are bearing the brunt of criminal behaviour. More than 2,000 metres of our underground cable has been stolen, and the network damaged. Engineers are on-site working hard to carry out repairs but it’s a significant piece of work that is unfortunately going to take time. We will have a clearer idea of exactly how long later today or early tomorrow morning.

Around 180 properties are without phone and broadband. We know how disruptive this is, and we’re doing everything we can to carry out the repair as quickly as possible. Due to the location of the damage, temporary traffic lights will be in place to keep our engineers safe whilst they work.”

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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.
Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Optical says:

    Around 1.25 miles of cable, needs a dodgy scrapyard to take that amount,even if it’s been stripped.

  2. Buggerlugz says:

    How in god does someone steal over a mile of cable and not be seen by anyone? Not to mention the UK having the most camera surveillance in the world.

    1. MrTruth says:

      At least you’re not blaming Boris this time.

    2. Optical says:

      Probably looking at least 3 tons plus,depending on cable size.
      Just amazed no one saw nothing,but a lot of Mareham Lane is pretty desolate,after the Mareham Pasture turning,just a odd house here & there,so very few people around to hear anything

    3. anonymous says:

      Going so, relatively, well until the last two words.

  3. NotMeGovner says:

    Wasn’t me.. must be Brexit.
    But in all seriousness that sucks for those affected so hope they get sorted soon.

  4. Just a thought says:

    It must take a measurable time to actually pill it out if the duct. Maybe a bit of line quality monitoring software and a bit of AI calculations could see a sudden drop of lines on a circuit and automatically raise the alarm to local constabularywith a bunch of postcodes to check.

    1. Optical says:

      To me it’s a well chosen quite location,have a white van with fake OR/or similar signage & no one would turn a blind eye to it.
      So many roads the same in the surrounding area, B6403 High Dike from Ancaster down to Grantham is just one.
      Someone probably even got dashcam footage of the crime without realising it.

    2. anonymous says:

      Constabulary couldn’t get there quickly enough. Even if they could most of the time they’d be attending streetworks.

      Then there’s what if a cabinet is hit by a car, or an FTTC cabinet or its backhaul fail to consider.

      AI or, in this case, machine learning are nice buzzwords but network monitoring software of this kind has been around a while alerting network operation centres if they’re large enough.

  5. Mike says:

    Even if they catch them they’ll be out within a few months.

  6. John says:

    Nice to see the unnecessary racist/xenophobic comments have been removed.

  7. Graham says:

    Having lost our fibre yesterday (in Lincolnshire, not a million miles from Lincoln) I do wonder, reading the update from our ISP, whether these thieves have struck again. “Half a kilometre section of 96 core fibre is being replaced”. Seems we were not the only people affected, Openreach customers and lots of other services were affected too. Unfortunately, unless the Police are right on top of the crime, chances of apprehending them is as remote as the location is.

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