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Full Fibre Providers Move to Tackle Rising UK Thefts of Fibre Equipment

Thursday, Mar 21st, 2024 (10:59 am) - Score 4,760

The SHIFT (Safety & Health In Fibre Telecoms) group, which aims to improve health and safety practices and standards across the UK’s fibre broadband industry, has today told ISPreview that its members (network operators etc.) are uniting to tackle the “numerous thefts of fibre splicing and test equipment amongst its members in recent weeks“.

Professional fibre splicing equipment, which is used to connect optical fibre cables together and ensure their proper operation, comes in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. But the high-end splicing devices can easily cost several thousand pounds and criminals have worked out that it’s worth stealing.

PICTURED: Openreach demonstrating a fibre splice in Suffolk.

According to SHIFT, most of the robberies are actually being committed in daylight hours and can be “theft of unattended equipment or from vehicles“, but on occasions colleagues have even had “force or threats used against them“. A spokesperson for the group said this is “obviously of great concern“, and they are now working with the police to tackle the issue and identify offenders.

Suffice to say that the group is keen to tackle this “emerging risk” before it becomes more of an epidemic.

A spokesperson for SHIFT told ISPreview:

“Whilst thankfully there have been no physical injuries sustained thus far, the nature of these thefts can be psychologically damaging to individuals and can be detrimental in terms of the continued operation, of smaller sub-contractors.

SHiFT Group Members will continue to report these incidents to the police and through their collective voice, elicit the appropriate support from the authorities in dealing with these crimes. In addition to this, the group will formulate a National Register of stolen fibre equipment including serial numbers etc, which, following consultation with test and calibration houses, will be used to identify the procurers and users of stolen items.

This is a serious issue which has the potential to result in serious harm to colleagues across the fibre industry. It is asked that everybody in the industry puts commercial rivalries aside and unites to prevent and disincentivise further cases of this nature.

Anyone procuring second-hand equipment is advised to take steps to assure themselves of its provenance before doing so. Any incidence of theft should be reported immediately to the Police and into the respective SHiFT Group member for whom the work is being undertaken.”

The founding members of SHIFT include CityFibre, Digital Infrastructure, Fibrus, Freedom Fibre, FullFibre, F&W Networks, Gigaclear, Lightspeed Broadband, Lit Fibre, Openreach, toob, Virgin Media (O2), Vodafone and Vorboss. But many more alternative networks have since joined the group.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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21 Responses
  1. Avatar photo AntiTheftSystem says:

    Splicing devices are very specific kind of equipment so I am guessing they must be stealing it for order and then selling it within the same group of technicians later using it.

    1. Avatar photo Papa Laz says:

      More likely stolen to order for export.

    2. Avatar photo AntiTheftSystem says:

      @Papa Laz
      For export where? Why this couldn’t be stolen in the assumed country of destination rather than stolen in the UK and then exported risking being caught while crossing border or random road police check? This stuff is stolen and then sold in the same way like builder tools left in the van overnight, all within the UK.

    3. Avatar photo Chris W says:

      It’s very common for industry-specific equipment to end up in a container destined for another country. There won’t be any record of the serial numbers etc being linked to stolen property there.

    4. Avatar photo AntiTheftSystem says:

      @Chris W
      It is not a Range Rover worth £100k to pay for international shipping in container and make it profitable. It is a used splicing device that can be in its half reliability already, I can’t even point a country that could be a destination of a shipment like this. It is all domestic.

    5. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      AntiTheftSystem – Its equipment like this they pack in the range rover. Its just increases the return if all that unused space in and around the car is packed with expensive kit.

    6. Avatar photo AntiTheftSystem says:

      But used splicing device in unknown condition is worth nothing.

  2. Avatar photo Chris says:

    I find this very odd. I can’t think that their is a massive amount of kit actually being stolen. It’s expensive to buy new but a very small resale market. Although I like the idea of being in a rough pub and some bloke asking if I want a sumitomo hd splicer it’s cheap.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      SHIFT are a pretty credible group, so they wouldn’t be raising this one unless it had become a noticeable problem.

  3. Avatar photo Scott says:

    I never leave my splicer unattended outside and bring it into my home every time I get back from work.

    I’m not sure why there is a demand on these though, pretty much everyone that uses one work for a company that provides them, if mines was stolen or lost it gets replaced by the company, fair enough I’d be asked to pay something towards if I lost it,but it would still be less than what I’d pay a thief for a knock off one.

    I would probably say most thefts of these are when someone has left it outside mid splice and opportunists have seen it, they look expensive and just took it in the hope they can move it on.

    Trick obviously is, do not leave it just sitting outside whilst you are in someone’s home or business checking the ont for a green light.

    1. Avatar photo SHiFT Group says:

      Most of the events have been robberies i.e. theft under serious threat of violence. Very few have been down to equipment being left unattended in the street. Most of these events have occurred in the West Midlands and we would encourage all to be extremely vigilant.

  4. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    The Warlords of Afghanistan went one better . . .hiring four wheel kit, previously nicked from Europe, to military incomers and then claiming for the cost of repairs when it was damaged during hostilities.
    The ultimate in commercialism and using somebody else’s money to make your fortune.

    If it isn’t happening already with telecomms kit in they UK, I’d be surprised.
    The UK economy is on the “Mexico way” trajectory.

    1. Avatar photo Overdosed with Nick says:

      yeah, they are splicing sand with opium. Thats why they ordered splicing devices to be stolen in the UK and transported to Afghanistan.

    2. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

      I think we can safely assume they will not be using ’em as Fatima’s coming of age cake decorations.

  5. Avatar photo David Gilligan says:

    There is a huge issue with poor security on cabs. I own one of the softest cab makers in Europe. We have come into the Fibre market late, we make the majority of MNO cabs. Where the security is a priority, rather than afterthought(just like cooling) we have gone through the pain of 5G = Covid and the fire and vandalism. we are staggered by the absolute lack of emphasis on security. Gas cupboard keys? Flimsy 3 point lock rods? Altnets need to realise the value of the cab. It’s an exchange on the street.
    Thankfully our Altnet customers are listening, and allowing a better quality, and tested style of security.

    1. Avatar photo David gilligan says:

      By softest, I of course meant largest!
      Damn typing.

  6. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    The doors to the consumer cabinets in my location make excellent weather cocks (They’re swinging open nearly all the time)

  7. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    The modern fibre cabinets look tinny, sound tinny, are tinny . . . . with toy town locks on ’em . . . .could that possibly incentivise people to vandalise or make illegal taps . . quick, says the board . . . lets contract the Brains Trust for an answer to that one.

    Whereas the old BT cabinets looked as if they could repel boarders.

    1. Avatar photo David gilligan says:

      This is truer than you realise. There is an awful lot of poor quality cabs. Security a really low priority for a lot of Altnets. Beggars belief.

  8. Avatar photo zxcvbnm says:

    Perhaps like traffic cones they are all stealing each others and it averages out? Or possibly a fair amount may have been genuinely lost/left behind in the field, perhaps to be rediscovered waiting down a manhole in a decade?

    It was tempting during the lockdown when large spindles of overhead fibre were sitting waiting in rural hedges for several months. Just about manageable with a wheelbarrow. Now if only I had had a splicer….

  9. Avatar photo Nick Roberts says:

    And you wonder why so many UK towns feature in “Turd Towns” on YT . . . pzzzzht !

    This is just one aspect of the mentality that created the effect.

Comments are closed

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