back to article Another London BT exchange hit by thieves

Thieves bagged new networking gear worth tens of thousands of pounds in the early hours of this morning in a raid on BT's Stepney Green exchange - just two weeks after its Mayfair facility was burgled. BT told customers that nine 21CN network cards were lifted at about 3.45am took down three ISPs in the area and left customers …


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  1. Mike Crawshaw

    No Prosecution

    No matter what evidence is found. BT gave the alleged thieves implied consent, y'see....

  2. Anonymous Coward


    If we can't get them to admit they messed up Phorm, then we'll shutdown the bl**dy network from inside so they can't track us!

  3. Sam

    No charges

    There won't be anybody charged, there was "no criminal intent", they just wanted the shiny things..

  4. anonymous sms


    Robbing bastards

  5. Anonymous John

    Oh! East End!

    You had me worried for a minute.

    Peggy Mitchell: "What's going on?"

    Phil Mitchell: "What's going on?"

    Billy Mitchell "What's going on?"


  6. Jonathan

    What is this?

    The second illegal trial?

    I think the thieves should write a letter explaining their actions, just like BT had to do. Yes, that would be fair. And before the City of London think about investigating, lets remind them it would be too expensive and require extensive counsel. Better to just leave it alone.

  7. Kenny Swan
    Paris Hilton


    You know I completely misunderstood the line asking about the two being related. I now understand they mean the two break-ins, but I thought they were asking if a party thrown by Madonna next door could have been related in some way. I thought maybe the goodiebags at the party weren't expensive enough for some celebs so they decided to bag themselves some top-of-the-range networking goodies instead.

  8. Nano nano

    Phone home

    Of course, any self-respecting installed kit would contain anti-theft software that grassed on itself if stolen ...

  9. radian

    crap security

    Up until a couple of years ago I worked in telephone exchanges all over the country.

    This kind of theft was quite common. I knew people who were frequently called out to see why an ISP had lost all its connections, only to find the equipment had been pinched.

    We were also advised to keep an eye out for suspicious characters when working nights.

  10. RW
    IT Angle

    Who's building a new network?

    And where?

    If the story is accurate, specific cards were taken. Sounds to me like theft to order on behalf of somebody, somewhere, who's setting up a new network. I'm dying of curiosity for the Register to tell us all about it.

  11. Craig

    They're sheds, not buildings

    Most BT telephone exchanges are inside structures that don't look any more secure than my garden shed. It's hardly surprising that some people have figured that BT's poor security is an opportunity to make a quick buck.

    By the way, absolutely love the comment by Mike Crawshaw, implied consent sounds about right! If BT are going to host expensive infrastructure in run down insecure buildings then they might as well just leave the doors open... Similarly Sam's comment about 'no criminal intent' raises a smirk!

    I'm going to grab my gardening jacket and head to the telephone exchange next door. Maybe that's where my lawnmower ended up when I last cut the grass after having a couple of pints...

  12. Steve Sherlock
    Black Helicopters


    Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the usual purpose of stealing to sell the proceeds for drug/beer/sex/other money? How the hell would you sell this kind of gear? Surely it can't be in high demand on the black market...

    Maybe the "Shame!" AC is on to something :p

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Well at this rate I don't think you'll have to worry much about Phrom since there wont be any kit left at BT. Not that I expect anyone would shed any tears over it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To Mike Crawshaw

    *high five* Best comment ever!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @ Steve Sherlock

    the cards themselves probably have very little resale value and your common thief will not have a clue what to take.

    the value is in the chips on the cards. They will be stripped off the cards and sold on in the grey market.

    where they are valued at 2M for the cards, they will probably only make about 40k, but that is still a good haul for a quick and easy break in. less risk than breaking into houses and banks...

    mines the one stuffed with assorted networking kit...

  16. Ron Eve

    Excuse me..

    This high-end stuff is really not my field, but I'm really intrigued as to who the f is in the market for it. Is it being stolen to order and if so by whom? (Yes I know the answer to that could lead to prosecution, but maybe someone can, ahem, point in the general direction).

    I mean it's not the same as nicking a nice metallic blue Porsche 911 with few extras (as wot happened to a mate of mine). This was clearly nicked with a customer/market in mind. Probably not a million miles from the middle east (as it happens).

    You see, BT don't really have security uppermost on their minds, do they. I mean, Phorm... oh...

  17. Sillyfellow

    never intended for resale?

    yeah, i also think this sounds very much like someone out there (even possibly a large corporation) may be both knobling BT and expanding their 'facilities' at the same time...

    .. unless it's just plain ol knobling bt.. why (else) would anyone want that equipment?

    since this equipment is far from being common, it's possible that it was never intended to be re-sold or re-used, but just disposed of, to screw BT over. seems to me that BT have been asking for it with their actions which are clearly unethical, and that they've gotten away with it.

    corporate karma?

  18. daniel

    @Who's building a new network?

    This stuff seems highly specialised.... I don't see Arfur Daily flogging half a dozen DSLAM's and core routers at the local car boot to John Q Public to hook up his home PC to the net...

    Being sold to Africa? on Ebay?

  19. Tim

    Asked if the two could be related

    Madonna and Guy Ritchie don't the met read the scum they were wed yonks since.

  20. Dex

    Being sold...yes and i know to whom

    The Pirate Bay obviously...They're making thier own ISP/Network xD

  21. Peter Gold badge

    You've got it all wrong.. It's a cooling experiment

    You obviously missed the experiments last week that showed just how much airco power you could save by throwing open the doors in the evening.

    Those parts are just given a cooling off to save energy, that's all. They just moved them a bit far away.

    I'd rig the lot, but the issue is that it could be an insider job..

  22. mike panero

    Part of a large rollout== massive clue

    Say you agreeded to supply n cards but becuase you now lack credit with your bank, 'cus the banks have all fucked up, you can't supply n but only n-p cards

    The obvious soloution steal the cards already deployed, use the insurance money to buy new ones & sell the stolen ones back to BT

    Sweet as long as the asset tracking has be subcontracted to the same people supplying the cards

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably the Chinese

    They have been known to pinch bits of telephone exchanges in the US and ship them back ot China to copy them.

  24. Moss Icely Spaceport

    When the plods catch em...

    ....they should throw the thieves in the DSLAMMER !

  25. Paul Stephenson

    Pssst, wanna buy some NIC's?

    By sheer coincidence I happen to have nine 21CN card's for sale, anyone interested pop into my local after 8pm ;)

  26. Anonymous Coward

    What's the point?

    Why steal such specialised equipment? Not easy to make money from selling it as it would be more than coincidence that such equipment is up for sale following the incident - and likely to attract attention from the police.

    Who would buy it? Who could feel comfortable basing their business on stolen equipment? Those in the market for such equipment would likely go through authorised resellers for piece of mind surely.

    And how anti-social the theft! ISPs, businesses and homes lost service due to the theft.

  27. Red Bren


    Tonight, there will be a story on Look North about a break in to a BT exchange. Some punter in the sticks, bored of waiting for BT to install a 20th century connection, decided to cut out the middleman and do the upgrade themselves...

    Mine's the one with the bolt cutters in the pocket...

  28. Anonymous Coward

    21CN cards the new geek pr0n


    a) Covert installation?

    b) Removing evidence?

    c) To be reverse engineered in Northern Korea?

    d) A Phorm of protest?

    e) 21CN card fetishist on the loose?

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hackers paradise

    This 21CN equipment? Would it by any chance be the same 21CN equipment supplied by Alcatel-Lucent - remember, some months back they bought the stealth data miner better known as Project Realto/Kindsight.

    Unless I am a complete innocent I would have thought there would be quite a market for this equipment. A quick re-engineering of the backdoor and then some equipment swapping while no one was looking. If I can think of it, then so can a hacker / malware merchant.

    And who would know? One card looks the same as any other card. Those serial numbers are really difficult to read in poor lighting.

    Is anyone calling for BT to do a security audit? What about other ISPs that are in the 21CN market - how is their security?

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Phorm link

    Is someone trying to get thier hands on a phorm server.. That'll prove how secure there system is!

  32. Wayland Sothcott

    BT Open Retch are struggling

    This was in the city, but in the country theves steal the cables. BT also don't bother with poles all the time. Often they just leave them in the grass or strung on the hedges. One of my customers cuts hedges for the council, he says he sometimes cuts through the BT cables.

  33. dave

    Bt security....what a joke

    I don't think they really meant to have committed an offense. They were just testing security at the facility and since BT did not really secure the facility they consented to this act. The police need not investigate this issue as it is far to complicated and we are to dumb to understand the details anyway.

    This just goes to show how SECURE their Phorm servers really are. Phuck OFF Phorm

  34. Rich

    Maybe the system doesn't work

    So to buy time, the BOFH-inspired project team are stealing the hardware and dumping it, thus shifting the blame for delay.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    How's it being exported?

    Im also wondering who/where this equipment is going to?

    If it IS being stolen for the far east (or somewhere else), how's it being exported/smuggled out of the UK?

    Surely the frieght airlines are using extra security for exports going out of UK to check for this equipment? ......and the theives must've been seen on CCTV a few times (not just in London)?

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