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Copper Cable Thieves Strike Openreach’s Wrexham Network AGAIN UPDATE

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022 (5:07 pm) - Score 1,824
British police

Some 1,200 customers on Openreach’s broadband and phone network in Wrexham (Wales) have been left disconnected again after the operator’s local network was hit by yet another theft of copper telecoms cable, which appears to have occurred in roughly the same area as two prior thefts earlier this month (here).

Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see a string of attacks like this hit an area before it starts to subside as the gang(s) move on to target a different region – often as a result of increased public awareness, police activity and Openreach’s security enhancements. The high price of copper helps to fuel such activity, while the perpetrators have no regard for the serious harm they cause.

The latest incident appears to have occurred just after midnight on 17th May and is affecting roughly the same Southsea and Coedpoeth area as before. The cable itself is often stolen by forcefully ripping and dragging it out of the ground, which has a tendency to cause significant damage and is rarely a quick fix.

A Spokesperson for Openreach said:

“We are really disappointed to report that our infrastructure serving properties in the Southsea and Coedpoeth area of Wrexham has once again been targeted by criminals.”

Our engineers have been working hard to repair our damaged infrastructure that has had around 5km of underground copper cable stolen on separate occasions.

We’re working closely with police and have deployed enhanced security measures in the area. It goes without saying that cable theft is an issue that has a significant impact on the wider community and we would urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity that they spot around any of our infrastructure to the police.”

The rollout of full fibre (FTTP) broadband services should eventually help to reduce such thefts (fibre has no value to thieves), but it won’t completely stop the problem from occurring until further into the future. This is because the gangs will sometimes attack fibre ducts on the assumption that they might contain copper. In other cases, copper and fibre cables may share the same duct, and thus any damage can impact both services.

UPDATE 19th May 2022

Openreach informs that the most recent theft struck near Chirk (320m cable), which is a few km south of Coedpoeth. The total number of potential customers affected by these thefts are 4400, but the actual figure will be much less because a large number should still have been able to access their broadband via FTTC.

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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
8 Responses
  1. AQX says:

    Surely by this time and the amount of people impacted, the refunds having to be provided, payments to any companies handling civil works as well as paying the engineers, it would just be cheaper to prioritise an FTTP rollout in the area?

    1. Ribble says:

      I don’t think compensation payments are due in cases of criminal damage (MBORC).
      The problem with trying to prioritise certain areas due to cable theft is that the criminal gangs move around so much. Plus there is a long long period over several years to move end users from Copper services to fibre.

    2. An Engineer says:

      I’m sure Openreach would love to be able to switch the impacted customers to full fibre but Ofcom won’t allow it: Sky and TalkTalk have some lobbying muscle.

    3. tech3475 says:

      I doubt this would solve the issue, not unless they forced everyone onto FTTP and ripped out the old cable to remove any incentive (which even then may not stop thieves from trying out of ignorance).

      Bearing in mind not everyone may want FTTP.

    4. JmJohnson says:

      An Engineer. Think you’ll find that Sky’s reasons against have very little to do with their telecoms though. More to do with that as people have decent connectivity their requirements for satellite based entertainment change.
      Hell… as soon as I get FTTP I’m saying bye bye to Sky, saving myself an extra £70pm (currently pay £120pm).

  2. Philip says:

    Yesterday morning phone cable theft also occurred in West Bergholt, affecting domestic customers, business and closing the local Post Office. The BT estimate to a fix is the 27th of the month which is 10 days.

  3. ad47uk says:

    Stick a high voltage cable under there as well, that will stop them once they touch it.

  4. Tony Dowle says:

    The Village of Harby Newark Nottinghamshire is currently without land-lines and has been for almost 2 weeks. I’ve only just got a service provider to admit to the cause. I don’t know how much area is affected.

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