back to article BT copper-cable choppers cop 16 months in the cooler

Two men have been jailed for 16 months for nicking large volumes of copper cable from BT's network. The pair posed as workmen to swipe the metal, cutting off telephone and internet connections to hundreds of homes and businesses. Daryl Carslake, 30, and Gavin Marriott, 28, both of Epsom, Surrey, were sentenced at Southwark …

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  1. Refugee from Windows
    Stop

    Off the net

    May I suggest they are in cells with no electricity, might give a further disincentive to cable magpies?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Off the net

      Or copper cages, with electricity passing through them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Off the net

        and some blunt cutters.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Fatman

      Re: ... cells with no electricity ...

      Actually, I think their cell should be supplied with PLENTY of electricity, with their bunk being connected to the mains live conductor, and a copper sheet covering the floor, connected to ground. BZZZT!

      Barring that, then administer daily a 50,000 volt taser zap to the nuts. BZZZT!

      On the other hand, hang them from an 11kV line, and wait for one of them to "walk" toward the insulator, in an attempt to get down to the ground. BZZZT!

      One of those choices will get the point across.

      Hey elReg, where is the BOFH icon????

    3. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Off the net

      But with just enough of the stuff to hang them selves.

  2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    "...a passing council permit officer."

    Now that was a genuine jobsworth job.

    1. Psyx

      "Now that was a genuine jobsworth job."

      Well, he at least did a good job of it. I guess things like this prove that there is indeed a good reason to have people doing that role!

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        I had actually meant it in a positive way - as in the job he did there was worth his job.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    16 months? after about 8 they will walk. Totally ridiculous given the huge financial impact this can have on businesses.

    Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10.

    If they hacked a computer and caused the same amount of damage they would be looking at many years of bird.

    Not to mention fraud and deception, as they fraudulently pretended to be BT workmen.

    1. Joe Montana
      WTF?

      Why should "the huge financial impact this can have on businesses" be the determining factor when considering a sentence? Businesses make continuity plans to cope with unexpected situations like this...

      How about the fact that hundreds of homes were left without telephone services, some of whom are likely to be elderly or infirm and may depend on their phone line in order to call 999?

      1. Psyx
        Stop

        "are likely to be elderly or infirm and may ..."

        And yet none of them died due to the theft. We can't sentence people based on 'perhaps' scenarios, can we?

        Otherwise we could have court session where the prosecutor argues for 5 years for petty offence because of what *might* occur in the wake of it. I don't want to live in a society where common thieves are punished for the hypothetical rather than the actual. It wastes court time and makes a mockery of sentencing guidelines and the wider judicial system.

        Ultimately, you've got to sentence based on the real outcome of crimes, rather than whatever worse-case-heart-wrenching piece of propaganda the media or prosecution can dream up. And additionally it needs to be within the framework of other sentencing. Stealing a bunch of cable is a wanky thing to do that in my world deserves a kick in the balls from every person inconvenienced by the theft (everyone lines up, delivers a kick to the happy sacks over a period of several weeks during which time the guys are in the slammer, and then they can wear a ankle-bracelet and clean up dog poo for a few hundred hours under curfew. Job done), but it's not worse than pretty much any violent crime, and shouldn't be penalised more than violent crime.

        1. Richard IV
          WTF?

          @Psyx "Perhaps" scenarios

          We can and do sentence people on perhaps scenarios - attempted [X], dangerous driving, negligence, and espionage to name but a few.

          The actual outcome is doubtless of prime importance, but to totally ignore the subjunctive is equally as silly. It's the courts' job to weigh up which risk scenarios were unacceptably brought into play and they are usually quite good at that. I'd be very worried if someone was sentenced for disturbing a butterfly on the basis that it could cause adverse weather elsewhere in the world, but I'd be absolutely disgusted if someone cut the power to a hospital and got off scot free because, by some miracle, no-one died in the time before the emergency supply kicked in.

          1. Dr Paul Taylor
            Joke

            grammar

            "to totally ignore the subjunctive is equally as silly"

            "I'd be very worried if someone was sentenced,,,"

      2. kissingthecarpet
        FAIL

        Half of BT and all of TalkTalk

        should be inside then.

      3. Fatman

        RE: ...huge financial impact this can have on businesses...

        BT, would have the right to seek compensation in a civil action should they choose to do so.

    2. Psyx
      Stop

      "Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10."

      It's light, but 5-10 is patiently absurd. That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter.

      "fraudulently pretended to be BT workmen."

      And how is that worse than kicking in someone's door with a baseball bat in hand?

      I'm all for suitable punishment, but the moment that you make the punishments for non-violent theft worse than those for violent crime you send a message that it's better for criminals to resort to violence and the entire punishment system fails as any kind of deterrent to violence.

      1. Nigel 11
        FAIL

        Pour encourager les autres

        That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter.

        And arguably it should be. With those crimes there is one victim, seriously affected. With cable theft there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of victims.

        At present they are getting away with it. In wartime it would be called "sabotage" and would be seen as a capital crime, punished much the same as treason. An appointment with the hangman would be quite likely.

        Personally I'd say work out the economic damage caused by crimes that wilfully damage infrastructures, and sentence them to what they'd get for stealing the same amount of money from a bank's safe. What would yet get for breaking into a safe and emptying it of a million quid? Five to ten years sounds about right.

        And the best thing is that with this sort of crime, one heavy sentence would convince just about all criminals to go back to the sort of theft where there is only one victim, where the gain to the criminal is not a tiny fraction of the cost to society.

        1. Psyx
          FAIL

          Re: Pour encourager les autres

          "And arguably it should be. With those crimes there is one victim, seriously affected. With cable theft there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of victims."

          It's only arguable if you're a bean-counter. There is no doubt in my mind that murder and rape are far more serious crimes than making a few grand and hurrying along someone's fibre upgrade.

          "At present they are getting away with it. In wartime it would be called "sabotage" and would be seen as a capital crime, punished much the same as treason. An appointment with the hangman would be quite likely."

          No it wouldn't. There are no such things as capital crimes within the EU. Thankfully.

          "Personally I'd say work out the economic damage caused by crimes that wilfully damage infrastructures, and sentence them to what they'd get for stealing the same amount of money from a bank's safe."

          Yeah... and who do you believe? Those people who say "hacker cost us £500,000!!!" or "flu outbreak cost economy £50 billion". We all know those figures are grossly inflated. And it's simply unethical to lock someone up based on creative accounting after the fact.

          "What would yet get for breaking into a safe and emptying it of a million quid? Five to ten years sounds about right."

          Is ten years of someone's life worth a million quid? Really?

          Although you'd get more. Because our criminal system is ultimately a legacy of rich people. So large-scale thefts are actually punished heavily. Rob the wrong safe of a million and you get 20 years. Fiddle a million in fraud though and you'll get a couple.

          "And the best thing is that with this sort of crime, one heavy sentence would convince just about all criminals to go back to the sort of theft where there is only one victim, where the gain to the criminal is not a tiny fraction of the cost to society."

          Um. No. It doesn't work like that. By all means create a new crime like "buggering up our infrastructure" and set harsh penalties, but trying to caveat existing theft laws legally is a bad course of action that undermines and complicates further sentencing guidelines.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pour encourager les autres

            "Is ten years of someone's life worth a million quid? Really?"

            Based on an average salary of £26.5k. Allowing for £500 a year increase for inflation, its probably a little high, but close enough.

            £268,500.00

            No, it's not worth a million quid, they'd need just under 40 years for that

            1. Psyx
              Holmes

              Re: Pour encourager les autres

              "No, it's not worth a million quid, they'd need just under 40 years for that"

              Except that money is worth less than human life, morally.

              Hell: Money isn't even a thing that physically exists in any real sense any more. Some numbers of a spreadsheet aren't worth more than a human life. When a Wall Street dealer loses 5 million for an investment bank in a day of trading, it's not as bad as putting 5 people up against a wall and putting bullets in their faces.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "It's light, but 5-10 is patiently absurd. That's more than you'd get for rape or manslaughter."

        Let's see... interfering with the 999 services, for starters.

        The penalties need to be set so high that wannabe cable nickers will think twice about it - and that includes coming down like a nuclear weapon on the yards which handle stolen goods.

    3. Wize

      "16 months? after about 8 they will walk..."

      Why not lock them up until BT have restored all the services back to normal. Give them the same duration of disruption as their victims.

      Or is waiting for BT too harsh a punishment?

    4. kissingthecarpet
      Devil

      It was non-violent.

      Its only money.

      You sound like the type who rather lose a leg than a tenner.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      regarding "16 months? after about 8 they will walk. Totally ridiculous given the huge financial impact this can have on businesses. Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10. If they hacked a computer and caused the same amount of damage they would be looking at many years of bird. Not to mention fraud and deception, as they fraudulently pretended to be BT workmen. "

      I completely agree .

      Thinking on people who have hacked systems , for their own selfish gain , what can we do with Bankers who hijack and hack the international finance system ? often only just within the permitted laws. They cause countless losses to many people.

      sorry for going off topic, and hijacking this forum ( for my own political point ) !!

    6. TheOtherHobbes

      This wouldn't happen

      if everyone had fibre.

  4. S4qFBxkFFg
    Happy

    Silver Linings

    ...but are BT replacing it all with fibre?

    1. Andrew Moore
      Thumb Up

      Re: Silver Linings

      That would make the most sense*. I don't think there is much resale value in fibre. Unfortunately it probably won't stop the scrotes from taking it anyway and then look uncomprehendingly as the bent scrap metal dealer explains to them why he won't be buying the 500m of cable from them.

      * does BT do sense?

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: Silver Linings

        The problem with replacing it with fibre is, iirc, the pstn service is still provided over the copper, the fibre is only providing the vdsl service. So you'd need to replace with fibre, plus adding all the equipment to handle the phones at the same time, which would take a lot longer then just replacing the cable.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Silver Linings

          Over here, Germany, they are moving to VOIP over DSL as the standard connection, unless the customer specifically asks for an analogue or ISDN connection.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Silver Linings

            > VOIP over DSL as the standard connection

            You don't have any minimum service guarantees, then? Telcos used to aim for 5-nines or 6-nines availability, VOIP over DSL would be lucky to get to 4-nines.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Silver Linings

              The one advantage you get with a proper landline telephone is the knowledge that even if you get a power cut at home the phone will still work. VOIP over ADSL would need local power.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Silver Linings

                I believe those are called "batteries" and a couple of them used to be deployed in every subscriber's house about 70 years ago. Everyeady No6 cells would last about 20 years.

                When microphone power started being supplied from the exchange, it was called "Central Battery" operations and telephone circuit diagrams contained details of wiring for local or central battery right up to the days that the BT type 100 and its derivatives went out of production in the mid 1970s.

                When I were a nipper (in the late 70s), we lived in a rural environment with party lines, hand cranked phones, human operators connecting every call and local batteries. The last of those didn't entirely disappear until the late 1980s

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

            3. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. jonfr
            Boffin

            Re: Silver Linings

            >Over here, Germany, they are moving to VOIP over DSL as the standard connection, unless the customer specifically asks for an analogue or ISDN connection.

            This also done here in Denmark. It is expensive to get normal telephone line connected. Other then that everything is now done with VoIP over ADSL, fiber or television cable service.

            I solved this issue. I don't have any normal home telephone for this reason. I just have mobile phone instead. That is good enough for me.

        2. This Side Up

          Re: Silver Linings

          "The problem with replacing it with fibre is, iirc, the pstn service is still provided over the copper "

          Well no, the idea is that you have VoIP but over a managed network not the public internet. If you want to use legacy hardware you can have an interface in the premeses. The real problem is that it relies on having a power supply in the premeses, whereas copper powers your phone from the exchange allowing you to make emergency calls during a power cut. With most people now owning mobile phones that's less of a problem than it used to be.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Silver Linings

            Apart from the couple of seconds DHCP lease renewal, I haven't experienced any downtime yet.

            As to powercuts, yes, that would be a problem but we had ISDN before and the PABX needed power as well, so no change there, and we haven't had a powercut since we moved in 3 years ago.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Silver Linings

              ISDN and PABX were never touted as domestic services (aside from the old BT Home highway ISDN2e lines), and therefore were usually accompanied by a few POTS lines (faxes usually) you could plug a phone in to at a push.

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: Silver Linings

                ISDN has been the standard here for years, for domestic use. Of the people I know, probably 80% used ISDN at home. At one point, if you wanted DSL, you had to have ISDN. That changed and you could also have it on an analogue line.

                Now you just get DSL and no voice and a VOIP account from the provider.

          2. @thecoda
            Go

            Re: Silver Linings

            Shouldn't be a problem with FTTC though. Run *something* for the power to said cabinet and you still have powered copper going into each property. It's not as though you're not already running new cables at the time...

            Heck, you could even use copper for just the power, it would still be a fraction of the original amount.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Silver Linings

            With most people now owning mobile phones that's less of a problem than it used to be.

            Like saying "now we have compulsary crash helmets motorcycle deaths are not what they used to be"

            ever tried finding your mobile in a hurry when your house is on fire and your kids trapped?

            your landline phone is still in the same place

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Silver Linings

          cabinet-based concentrators have been around for decades. Copper in one side, fibre out the other. It means subscriber loops in the countryside are only a couple of km long instead of possibly 15-20

          There's nothing stopping BT deploying these in their cabinets already. A number of telecom manufacturers (incluing huawei) make DSLAM+Voice kit (30 line devices were about the size of a VHS cassette 6 years ago, probably the same size now, but capable of handling 200+ lines)

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Silver Linings

      BT should nick the copper cables themselves and use it to fund fibre...

      1. Robert E A Harvey
        Pirate

        Re: Silver Linings

        I rather think it was El Reg who told us that you could buy BT for less than the value of the copper they owned.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Joel 1

        Re: Silver Linings

        They should have read their old article about Peter Cochrane http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/22/peter_cochrane_profile/

        who suggested BT should be mining their copper decades ago....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silver Linings

      It seems like common sense but it's probably not.

      I assume the thieves nicked a length of cable between joint boxes. It's 'quite hard' to splice a fibre into the middle of two sections of cable with hundreds or thousands of pairs of wires in it. You'd have to rip out all the copper on either side as well. Once you've done that, what do you terminate it on? I doubt their techs carry fully equipped fibre cabinets in the back of their vans, just in case, so that would be a problem.

      To get people back in service quickly you'd have to replace like with like - else those people are out of action for weeks - maybe longer if the new cabinet needs planning permission and mains power provision.

  5. David Ward 1

    If the council official took the offenders photo and had the van registration number, I wonder why they were still free to commit the same crime three weeks later? It seems the police only arrested them when they were subsequently dropped into their laps by BT. A bit disappointing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just shows the quality of the police force.

      We had a corner shop robbed near me, police officer had no idea what road he was on (it's one of the main roads in town) no idea what the adjoining roads were called, didn't know there was an alleyway behind the store (which his car was parked next to)

      I swear they must hire a large portion of the force from the special needs departments of schools.

      1. Magister

        >> police officer had no idea what road he was on <<

        Many years ago, the policeman would have a beat and would probably only be responsible for a very small area. These days, they cover an enormous patch; talking to one copper a few years ago on a Sunday, there was just him and two other plods to cover 100 sq miles - population approx. 0.7 million people

        They have a shitty job and very little thanks for doing it.

      2. Jan 0 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Evidence

        > "Just shows the quality of the police force"

        Is it a question of quality?

        I view the police force as an experiment that has failed. For example, there has been an abject failure to prevent the ownership of unlicensed firearms. Our police patently do not stop most crime and there's no evidence that there would be more crime if there were no police.

        Instead of tinkering with 'police reform', our rulers could introduce competing institutions to control crime and further institutions to assess their results.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Evidence

          If you read Inspector Gadgets police blog (written by a serving police inspector) you will eventually come to the conculsion that the police are doing their job keep catching the criminals, they keep dragging them in front of the court.

          The problem is that the criminals don't receive a punishment that puts them off reoffending.

          Gadget blames the CPS (Criminal Protection Service or Couldn't Prosecute Satan!) and the courts. However, looking at the courts they have "sentencing guidelines" imposed from the politicians, who also set "targets" which police officers can be sacked if they don't meet.

          Who is ultimately responsible for the current state of affairs? I don't think it's the police or the courts, I think it's the politicians.

    2. nsld
      FAIL

      if its anything like where I live

      Then the plod check the registration and notice its registered to a particular address and then suddenly find they have some paperwork to shuffle.

      Magically you can live in certain places and be immune to police intervention.

    3. jubtastic1
      Holmes

      It's really down to the quality of the criminals

      The competence of the police wasn't really tested in this case due to the fact that these muppets actually went back to the scene of the crime the next day to try and steal more stuff, although you might argue they were just playing the odds, what with it being a one in a million shot that BT engineers would actually be on site the next day.

    4. Terry Barnes

      They quite possibly put the fake plates on when it was a worksite and put real plates on to move it around.

  6. El Presidente
    FAIL

    Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10?

    Cost per prisoner £41,000. 2 prisoners x 10 years = £820,000

    Haven't really thought that through, have you?

    A 3 year 7pm - 7am curfew and long term (5 year) community service sentence would be a better option. They can't go out robbing at night and have to organise their lives round a 4 day week for the next 5 years while working to put something back into the community.

    Like cleaning dog piss and graffiti off green cabinets, for example.

    1. Magister

      Re: Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10?

      >>Cost per prisoner £41,000. 2 prisoners x 10 years = £820,000<<

      Any idea what the cost was to all the people that lost their connections? ( I haven't, but when we lost connections due to a fire in the ground damaging cables, the loss of business over 3 days was about £100,000 for the one company)

      >>A 3 year 7pm - 7am curfew and long term (5 year) community service sentence would be a better option.<<

      Assuming that they would actually abide by the terms of the service order. Based upon how effective these things normally are, it probably won't stop them for more than the time it takes them to realise that they have no milk / beer / curry / fags etc. Once they see that there is no penalty, they'll be straight back to nicking copper cable.

      >>Like cleaning dog piss and graffiti off green cabinets, for example.<<

      That I could definitely support; let the buggers out for parts of the day and earn their keep for a change.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should be 5 years at least, ideally 10?

      "Like cleaning dog piss and graffiti off green cabinets, for example."

      No, that's low value. Far better to have a Prison Service Labour Corps that does navvy work. Give cons the choice of 23 hours in a cell with a bucket, or "volunteering", and make them dig the trenches and lay the ducts for fibre.

  7. Alan Brown Silver badge

    no disincentive

    Seriously - these twats caused millions of pounds of disruption and they get a slap on the wrist.

    I know it's expensive to keep 'em in jail but there needs to be long sentences to deter wanton destruction of critical infrastructure. The threat of 10-15 years banged up is the kind of thing which puts 'em off.

    As for your idealistic views: I live near Epsom and we (neighbours and myself) had to deal with a persistent offender from Epsom who repeatedly breached bail and his curfew. The police end up doing FUCK ALL about it - and when they did finally arrest him (several times), he didn't get any punishment for bail or curfew breaches (merely a warning from the bench which he ignored)

    Ditto on his community service which he refused to do - and got away with not doing.

    In the end he finally killed someone and got put away for that, which ended a couple of years of hell for everyone in the nearby area.

    1. Psyx
      Stop

      Re: no disincentive

      "In the end he finally killed someone and got put away for that, which ended a couple of years of hell for everyone in the nearby area."

      Sadly, the pi$$-taking of the criminal classes does only end when they cross a line and finally get sent down properly. It's mainly a problem with the legal system though. Fair trails for all give an advantage to the professional criminals who know how to work the system. It's really not fair to repeatedly blame the police and the CPS and magistrates when the actual problem is the professional criminal underclasses.

      As to 'the cost of crime' I think we've all seen enough "hacker causes £20,00000000000 of damages" headlines to know that these are inflated to whatever people want them to be, and are generally a bunch of shit. I don't really think we should be able to take away ten years of someone's life based on a back of fag-packet worst-case bit of maths.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: no disincentive

      Alas it is often not the fault of the Police despite appearances. In my younger days I was a Special Constable and it was very disheartening to be involved in watching out for specific people known to be 'out and about' despite curfews etc and then watch them taken to court for repeated breaches of bail only for the magistrate to give them bail again!!!

      How long would YOU bang your head against that wall before your determination to bang up all the scrotes started to slide?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: no disincentive

        How long would YOU bang your head against that wall before your determination to bang up all the scrotes started to slide?

        That's something I struggle with every time there's a general election.

    3. Mr Anonymous
      WTF?

      Re: no disincentive

      What makes you think prison is a disincentive?

      Taxas killed 10 prisoners in 2011, 474 since 1976, if death doesn't put someone off committing a crime, why would a number of months in a warm and comfortable prison where you're guaranteed two hot meals a day?

      1. Nigel 11
        Thumb Down

        Re: no disincentive

        For some criminals, especially the violent ones, you are right. Some aren't deterred. Their crime doesn't make any economic sense in the first place. But I'm fairly sure that most of those who steal for a living consider their personal risk-reward ratio. Upside: ££££. Downside: self-assessed cost of punishment times chance of being caught. Commit crime if upside > downside. Especially so for those whose crime is planned rather than impulsive.

        Crimes against infrastructure cost society a large multiple of the gain to the criminal, and the sentence should therefore be disproportionately heavy. The criminals won't suddenly go straight. But they will go back to the sort of crime where the gain to the criminal approximately equals the loss to the victim or his insurer. In other words they'd stop nicking cable, and go back to nicking cars or breaking into banks, and society at large would be better-off.

    4. kissingthecarpet
      FAIL

      Re: no disincentive

      How do you know all these details?

      It must be hard on the mean streets of Epsom, ha ha ha. What did he do to you - trespass on your lawn?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: no disincentive

      Nothing a bat to the kneecaps wouldn't fix.....

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Meh

    Taken into consideration

    These chaps had a van and a winch - so it's likely that they have been ripping out a lot more copper than just these couple of incidents ... and they must have been able to get rid of the copper to someone too ...

    but of course, tracking those down would take actual leg work from the police who are all busy on twitter at the moment.

  9. LyleS
    Thumb Up

    Simple solution

    BT, give us fibre to the door and you won't need a task force, you can even sell the copper off yourselves :)

    1. James Turner

      Re: Simple solution

      Except the thieves are too stupid to tell fibre and copper apart. I've seen several cases of BT fibre infrastructure being ripped out by thieves who thought it was copper.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Simple solution

        As James Turner says your average copper thief is not exactly a member of the IEEE, and even if BT did decide to change every line in the country to fibre tomorrow, you'd have lots of copper still in the ground/up on poles for years after.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Simple solution

      And selling all that copper (assuming you can remove it economically) might just about pay for all the kit and engineering time required to give the third of the population who don't want broadband or Internet access a simple telephone service that works over fibre - bearing in mind the stuff out there now already works perfectly well for those people.

      That just leaves the problem of all the other telcos and ISPs who are selling services to people over that BT copper. If they don't have an equivalent fibre product or the customer doesn't want to upgrade, does BT just tell TalkTalk and Sky and Virgin customers, 'Sorry, we're cutting you off now?"

  10. LinkOfHyrule
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe the Bill need to set up a dedicated task force to tackle this crime. The officers working in this specialist unit could be called "Copper Coppers" hahaha

    Paris because she likes a boy in blue to take down her particulars!

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Happy

    A better

    option maybe to encase all the cables with an metal covering that carries 11Kv.

    That way we wont have to bother with locking up the gits who steal cable for a living.

    Still , we did have some fun with the metal theives by putting a thin layer of brass chips on the barrels of steel scrap chips we kept outside the factory... those barrels went pretty quick .

    Ps we keep all the scrap inside now

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police don't prevent crime any more, just a half arsed attempt to clean up after

    "Police computer checks against the van linked it to the theft three weeks earlier in Teddington, allowing cops in London to file a second set of charges."

    So, couldn't be bothered to trace the reg number of the van and prevent future crime by arresting the pair that were reported at the previous crime scene, but they only filed charges when they had the perps already so they could garner a good set of crime detection stats. As for the crims using a real plate on their van used in mulipple heists, it doesn't show much for either parties intelligence.

    1. Magister

      Re: Police don't prevent crime any more, just a half arsed attempt to clean up after

      >> trace the reg number of the van <<

      Assuming that the address is actually valid

      A while ago, the DVLA admitted that they don't have the correct details for about 1 vehicle in 10 - that's over 3 million of them out there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Police don't prevent crime any more, just a half arsed attempt to clean up after

        "A while ago, the DVLA admitted that they don't have the correct details for about 1 vehicle in 10 - that's over 3 million of them out there."

        DVLA are useless. I unintentionally ran a car all of last year with no MOT. Used daily, drove repeatedly past the various ACPO cameras, past many, many ANPR equipped police cars. Even went to meetings with the police driving it. Do you think we had one call, letter, reminder, or anything, from DVLA, police or anybody? It only came to light because the tax was becoming due, which happens to be a couple of days after the MOT (so taxed last year on an MOT with three days to go).

        If they can't even enforce the basic mechanical safety check then what's the chance of them doing any other piece of motoring administration correctly?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Police don't prevent crime any more, just a half arsed attempt to clean up after

          [Pedant] DVLA don't deal with MOTs, that's VOSA's job (just as bad). DVLA would only flag up a car with no tax[/pedant]

  14. Yet Another Commentard

    What's it worth?

    Having never tried to fence 450m of copper cable I have no idea what it's worth. I'm genuinely curious. How much would they have made from that hoist? Is it really worth the crim's time to do it? How do you fence it? Do they have to remelt it first?

    1. kissingthecarpet

      Re: What's it worth?

      Usually you have to burn off the insulation or they won't take it AFAIK

      1. El Presidente
        Holmes

        Re: What's it worth?

        Burning the insulation off is the easiest way of getting caught.

        If you want clean copper (best price) you need to use a machine to remove the insulation.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE28j2MQCRg

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdT_LvtovMc

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P21PBvcLmQQ

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xScaU15tA1M

        Commercial cable strippers are also available.

    2. Richard IV

      Re: What's it worth?

      I've long wondered why the media always insists on reporting the value of drugs seized - "What? A million quid for a few kilos? What proportion gets through? Hmm, so long as I don't traffic somewhere that has the death penalty..."

      This is exactly the opposite - even at vastly inflated metal prices, the amount of effort involved hardly seems commensurate to get a few grand at scrap and the risk of a year or so banged up.

      The media generally keep banging on about how copper is hitting record prices per tonne. Instead, they should be pointing out that just 1 tonne is a hell of a lot of copper wire, even at whatever wire gauge BT use.

      1. El Presidente
        FAIL

        Re: What's it worth?

        "1 tonne is a hell of a lot of copper wire"

        You would be surprised / You have no idea.

        1. Richard IV

          Re: What's it worth? @El Presidente

          I wouldn't be surprised / I have some idea / I overdid a rhetorical flourish.

          I'll admit to ignorance of the thickness of copper in the wires involved - @2cm diameter a tonne will be around 400m of wire, which I'd imagine would take up about 1/2 m^3 in volume allowing for insulation and imperfect packing (were it a pure copper ingot it would be approx 0.1 m^3), and a few reels like that is going to start buggering the suspension in the vehicle you use.

          It's not as though you can repeat this too often in a given area, and you're sometimes going to yield fibre rather than your planned copper haul, so the risk/effort/reward ratios look way out to me. [Unless you come up with a way of being paid to replace the cable you've just nicked.., ideally with the same cable]

          1. El Presidente
            Facepalm

            Re: What's it worth? @ Richard IV

            "I'll admit to ignorance of the thickness of copper in the wires involved"

            Yet claim superior knowledge of the cost/benefit analysis of nicking copper cable which is rife, globally, and very very profitable?

            Riiiiiight.

            Even common criminals know more about the subject than you do yet here you are, posting miscalculated bollocks about it on a web forum, along with with your 'workings out' ... LOL .. some people have no shame and less of a clue.

  15. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Cupid Stunts! (OK almost Feb. 14)

    Should've just nicked the manhole covers. Quicker, and still worth the effort!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cupid Stunts! (OK almost Feb. 14)

      BT ones are usually concrete on a light metal frame, unless in a heavy roadway,

  16. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Holmes

    Scrap metal

    This stuff wouldn't be worth stealing without dishonest scrap metal dealers to sell it to. Why isn't there a regulation and licensing scheme? Or, if there is one, why doesn't it work?

    You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to spot scrap that's probably stolen: copper cable, sheet lead and copper off roofs, manhole covers.

    1. Psyx
      Thumb Up

      Re: Scrap metal

      "This stuff wouldn't be worth stealing without dishonest scrap metal dealers to sell it to. Why isn't there a regulation and licensing scheme? Or, if there is one, why doesn't it work?"

      They're trying to regulate, but unsurprisingly the industry is resisting. And when I say 'industry' I mean of course 'scrap metal merchants who have always dealt in used banknotes and the grey economy'. It's like trying to get Crack Converters to check stuff isn't nicked: It essentially destroys their business, because much of their business is with crims.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Scrap metal

        Try the Al Capone solution, they couldn't get him for the crimes, but they did get him for the tax frauds associated with them. Any scrappie who can't produce documentation for all the copper on the premises gets a tax bill assuming he paid nothing for it, i.e. his whole sale price is treated as profit. Let's see them keep a buisness going that way.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scrap metal

        There must also be quite a bit of material that looks exactly the same, such as from legitimate building or renovation works. You have basically just described all material that a scrap merchant would see on a daily basis.

        1. Psyx

          Re: Scrap metal

          "such as from legitimate building or renovation works. "

          That's typically grey market as well! It's a well-know little scam in the building trade to take all to good bits to the scrappy for a few used fivers. The whole business is utterly dodgy. I've never known an honest scrappy. Or indeed one who could be described in any way more flattering than 'pikey'.

      3. Anomalous Cowturd
        Stop

        Re: Scrap metal

        I took a couple of old dead car batteries to my local scrappy the other week, rather than giving them to the local council, and they insisted on taking my name, address and car registration number. They then took my bank details as they could only pay by BACS.

        The money was in my account before I got home.

        An unscrupulous dealer would have difficulty (I presume), shifting any quantity of untraceable metals.

        Assuming, of course, that any official checks are ever carried out without a complaint being made...

        As an aside, a pre-1990 domestic copper hot water cylinder is now worth more as scrap than it cost new...

  17. bag o' spanners
    Facepalm

    It's not that profitable. Unstripped, they'd be lucky to touch £1.00 a kilo with no questions asked. Maybe £3:50-4.25 if it's properly stripped. Putting a mug between themselves and the buyer would cut their share down to about 75p a kilo unstripped, or £3 stripped.

    Once you add in the transport and logistics, these two guys were not exactly getting rich quick.. If they weren't stripping the cable, they'd be working for peanuts. If they were stripping it, they'd each be touching around 700 a week tax free for about 50 hours work. (allegedly). Barely worth the risk, unless you're on the bottom rung of the modern economy. I'll bet the old bill also confiscated the van, winch, and any other kit they could link to the thefts.

  18. Da Weezil
    FAIL

    *sigh*

    There is one - the regs were recently tightened up - and all it has really achieved is creating more administration for the metal business and an inconvenience of having to faff around with cheques as cash payments are no longer permitted.

    The bent dealers will still operate the black market as none of this stuff ever went through the books anyhow. Just another example of legislation from a bunch of muppets who have no grasp on real life for ordinary people.

    The van was most likely running under faked registration details either a non existent owner or cloned with another vehicle or on stolen number plates. Do people really not know about this stuff despite the exposure in the media of the different ways thieves operate?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *sigh*

      The government's claim that preventing scrap dealers from using cash will deter this kind of crime is clearly rubbish. It is clear to all that these measures are actually a crackdown of tax avoidance. The government just don't have the balls or integrity to admit it.

  19. Robert E A Harvey

    Morons

    >The same motor was used in a similar blag in Fernheath

    They really deserve to be nicked, don't they?

  20. Da Weezil
    Mushroom

    Shame they didn't rip out the crap copper that has been flapping my line for the 11 years I have been on broadband. That way I might get a decent pair that will allow my "always on" service to be *always on* instead of having a sync that resembles a bouncing ball..... and no it isn't an issue in the flat - every elecrical gizmo and gadget in the premises has changed in that time... most of my neighbours have changed due to short-hold tenancies (this development is popular amongst the buy to let boys) so no issues with something that her next door has - and now one else around here has this issue.. IT IS THE <&@£ LINE!!!!!!!!!!!

    As for masquerading as BT engineers, the same charge could be levelled against the muppets that keep closing jobs on my unstable 3 km line as no fault when the ISPs radius and my router logs clearly show the line dropping far more often than it should, Including the guy who improved the below FTL fault raised by my last ISP then authorized an SFI charge on a fault that wast in my premises or equipment.

  21. xyz Silver badge
    Happy

    blimey!

    > cutting off telephone and internet connections to hundreds of homes and businesses

    They got all BT's customers in one swoop!!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To all the string 'em up by their goolies and the police are crap etc

    The idea of a police force is that a relatively small number of enforcement officers are able to control the behaviour of tens of their number of joe public.

    The "police" idea can only work whilst joe public is willing to help and unfortunately after 4 decades of promoted greed, corruption and apathy at all levels of society, the result is the UK you see around you, don't pass the book because we all stood by and allowed it to happen.

    If you want the police idea to work then you have to report every offender and make certain that the crime is punished rather than just saying "it isnt my job" then bitching about police effectiveness.

    The police can only be a deterent whilst criminals feel there is a good chance that they will get caught and the resulting penalty is both obvious and frightening enough. So with the uniformed police numbers decreasing and you unwilling to do your part there is no deterent,.

    Yes we can make the punishments more severe but that is only a small part of the criminal risk equation, the largest part is joe public not being disenfrancied and apathetic.

    In summary, if you dont like what you see around you then fix it because only you can. You dont have to be a vigilante you just have to make your coppers work for you before some criminals steal them.

    1. Psyx

      Re: To all the string 'em up by their goolies and the police are crap etc

      To some extent the police did it to themselves. Or rather some of the bastard/lazy ones screwed it up for the good ones.

      I do try to support the police but many of them would rather get a pat on the back for screwing over a generally 'good' citizen who made a mistake and who is an 'easy kill' than they would try to face the uphill struggle of dealing with the real scum. I appreciate that it's a hard job and it's really the fault of the criminals, but some police officers don't help themselves and are such utter pricks that they shouldn't be allowed to deal with 'normal' people, for the sake of the Force's reputation!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mind you it isnt surpising that they got away with it for so long....

    ....there are always people digging up the road, how are you supposed to know they are not the great tarmac theives.

  24. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Punishment to fit the crime?

    Jail time alone is hardly fit. Make them put the cable back and then jail time.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what's wrong...

    ...with Blighty. 16 months instead of 5 years and treble damages. These crims got off easy and that's why crime will continue to escalate in Blighty.

    For the clueless... punishment is not a deterrent for all crims or crime. It's a disincentive for the majority however as Mr. Swartz recently confirmed. A high percentage of crims would think twice before commiting a crime if they knew they were going to spend the next 5+ years in prison. Nothing is going to stop all crime especially a slap on the wrist which is not a disincentive at all, it makes crime worth the risk of punishment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is what's wrong...

      Hmm.

      Crime is actually falling, so I'm not sure your first point stands up.

      As to criminals being deterred - surely it's the likelihood of detection rather than the penalty attached the determines risk? If what you said were true you could eliminate all crime by simply applying the death penalty to every crime. Empirically that doesn't work.

      The risk/reward ratio applies to all human behaviour, not just crime. In crime though, increasing penalty increases the risk and in an unregulated market (such as criminal ones) will increase reward, making those willing to run that risk richer. It provides an incentive to enter the market, not a disincentive. That's why the death penalty in some countries for drug smuggling doesn't stop drug smuggling, it just makes the criminal organisations supplying those markets richer.

      If you don't believe me, ask yourself this - would you make more money as a contracting DBA working in Luton, or in Iraq? What makes the Iraq job more valuable? It's the risk the individual is prepared to take on to achieve the reward.

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