back to article Cable thieves hang up on BT, cause MAJOR outage

BT is suffering a big outage in a number of areas throughout Blighty, after thieves severed the telecoms giant's fibre cable in an effort to nick copper wiring from the company on Monday. TalkTalk, which is a BT Openreach customer, said on its status page that its service was affected by a "major cable break". BT told The …


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  1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Damn thieves

    I bet they don't steal cables that supply their own services. I hope you choke on the 10p you made.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damn thieves

      I kinda doubt they'll have taken 10p worth of copper if large portions of the network have fallen over. It's a massive market. The company I work for has multiple sites around the country, and in one year had to replaces £2million worth of copper cables, and some similar companies cannot afford the additional cost to the insurers to cover their cables. The problem should decline as companies move to installing fibre or aluminium alternatives - fibre isn't as easily reusable, and aluminium do4esn't have as high a ROI for this type of enterprise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn thieves

        The issue is that the thieves cut first and find out later. In some cases they go on a slash and burn when they find out they have wasted their time. Jointing in new cables is not a trivial task, it is likely that the whole length will need to be re-pulled in and jointed. In some cases it may be several lengths. If a joint box contains say ten cables it is likely that only one can be worked on at any one time - and that assumes you have spare lengths of exact match, expensive fibre cable sitting around.

        Using railway lines can be a nightmare just getting the access rights can be very time consuming. It is not the easy fix that it was once thought to be. Sadly the low life thieves segment with which society must cope, do not appear to have the same access problems. Half an hour to get in and destroy days to get in and replace/repair.

        1. g e

          Re: Damn thieves

          How about writing 'FIBRE OPTIC - NO COPPER' in very clear letters on the cabling.

          Possibly in Romanian, also.

          1. DragonLord

            Re: Damn thieves

            They tried that, the thieves left a message saying they needed to check anyway.

          2. Anonymous C0ward

            Re: Damn thieves

            And putting some high voltage cables in the bundle with the rest, for extra Darwin value.

            1. S4qFBxkFFg

              Re: Damn thieves

              I would prefer if it was high (as in, a few hundred amps) current.

              1. Stoneshop

                Re: Damn thieves

                @ S4qFBxkFFg

                you need just 100mA to kill. And as I=V/R, you want V sufficiently high to be sure you get I large enough over the R that is the resistance of the average body wearing rubber wellies and gloves.

                Car batteries and welding rigs are well capable of delivering several hundreds of amps. They're not even close to lethal unless you're puncturing your skin and getting those electrons right into your soggy innards. In which case even a 9V battery will do.

            2. John McCallum

              Re: Damn thieves

              This won't work the brainless twats have been known to cut(or try to cut )10000 volt cables with bolt cutters one fried thief.

      2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Damn thieves

        @AC I'll remember to add the <Sarcasm> tags next time

    2. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Damn thieves

      > I hope you choke on the 10p you made.

      The problem is the copper under the ground is worth more than the full market cap of BT.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn thieves

        You need the high voltage to puncture the (high resistance) outer skin layers. Once you're into the nice soggy stuff inside the skin then the resistance drops very rapidly and current flows without much problem.

        This is the reason that people who get electrocuted by a few thousand volts and up tend to end up scorched and smoking, their internal body fluids have boiled.

        1. SDoradus

          Re: Damn thieves

          From forty years gone I recall the safety chart in my Physics class noting that only 0.1A across the body will kill you.

          1. Kevin Johnston

            Re: Damn thieves

            Hence the old ditty....

            Volts jolts but mills kills

            1. Tom 38

              Re: Damn thieves

              Volts thrill, amps kill.

  2. ravenviz Silver badge

    This antisocial behaviour cannot be tolerated. Scrappies need to get with the plan and not pay up for scrap without a history. I'm not talking about Mrs Jones taking a fridge to the tip, this is for industrial waste which should have a license, supported by a chemical or molecular signature, all of which also mean more jobs for people who *want* to work.

    1. pPPPP

      Over the last few years I've replaced all of the copper piping in my house with plastic and I've sold the old stuff for scrap. I was last there a few weeks ago. The scrappie now takes ID and will only pay out via a bank transfer. He said that that aspect's not too difficult for him, but he's lost a lot of trade as a lot of people who don't want a paper trail, including tradesmen who have "legitimately" thieved it from the jobs they're working on who don't want the tax man tracing their income. Because there are still plenty of scrappies who will still pay cash, no questions asked, those people just go there.

    2. QuinnDexter

      You're assuming that legacy installations have chemical or molecular signatures that are recorded

      1. ravenviz Silver badge


        If legislation was such that an approved tester had to attend a decommission then there could be a legitimate record.

    3. Terry Barnes

      The crackdown in the UK has seen stolen metal heading for the continent instead - hence more thefts recently in the south east.

    4. Vic

      Scrappies need to get with the plan and not pay up for scrap without a history.

      That'll be the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, then.


    5. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

      Scrappies need to get with the plan and not pay up for scrap without a history. I'm not talking about Mrs Jones taking a fridge to the tip, this is for industrial waste which should have a license, supported by a chemical or molecular signature, all of which also mean more jobs for people who *want* to work.

      Dealers already do as much as is practical: by law all purchases are photographed and ID is taken. They're generally a lot happier if they see some evidence you're a tradesman too if the amount or nature of the scrap isn't in keeping with a consumer. On the other hand, it's not realistic to ask for too much in the way of provenance since by definition the material is scrap with only residual value and often accumulated frequently but in small quantities.

      For example my Dad is retired now but he was an electrician working on generators - they did a lot of work with very heavy gauge cables. If you have a metre-long offcut of say 300A cable (still quite small by their standards) that could easily be worth a couple of pints as scrap. He'd accumulate such offcuts in the course of his work and perhaps once a year take them to the merchant for perhaps £80, £90 or £100. Do you really expect him to be able to say "Oh yes, that particular one foot of cable is from cutting a run to length for a new installation at Coventry General Hospital"?

  3. jai

    measures in place

    to help it quickly report cable theft to police

    is that so they can claim the £1000 reward themselves? :)

  4. M7S

    Dont repair it, replace with fibre as and when this happens

    Gradually the entire country will get done. Given that the labour is being deployed anyway, the marginal cost is not so bad.

    Mind you, I think there'd be a rise in vandalism between the houses of most Reg readers and the exchange. Funny that.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dont repair it, replace with fibre as and when this happens

      Problem is, they steal the fibre thinking it will be copper....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dont repair it, replace with fibre as and when this happens

      "Dont repair it, replace with fibre as and when this happens"

      It's not terribly easy to replace a stolen 1,000 pair length of cable with some fibre. It's very hard to joint the fibre onto the copper cable left at each end.

      Joking aside, it would leave people out of service for weeks instead of a few days. Everyone affected who had broadband would need new kit, and people who just have a phone line couldn't be connected at all. There are burglar alarms that would refuse to work, private services using the copper wire that would no longer work (ATMs, traffic lights, chip and PIN machines etc...)

      I'm not sure how well received the message 'good news - we replaced the nicked stuff with fibre, bad news, you need to spend £1000 on a new burglar alarm' would be.

  5. Anonymous Blowhard

    They should treat this as terrorism; okay, the objective isn't to intimidate the public, but the overall result in loss of services is similar, and has a big impact on people's ability to conduct business.

    If terrorists started to attack the comminications infrastructure in this way I think we'd see a more pro-active response by gorvernment and the police.

    Until there's a dis-incentive for this kind of crime, in the form of effective detection and heavy punishment, then it will not stop. The perps are too stupid to tell the diference between copper and fibre so will keep at it, even when or if the network is 100% fibre (unlikely if telecoms companies are wasting resources replacing stolen infrastructure).

    1. Natalie Gritpants

      No, please don't. We have enough stuff being treated as terrorism already. Terrorism usually ends up with people dying not just inconvenienced.

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        My point about terrorism is that destuction of infrastructure by thieves has similar consequences to actual attacks on infrastructure; direct loss of life is not neccessarily a terrorist objective (even the IRA experimented with infrastructure attacks and economic terrorism) and there can be serious secondary effects due to loss of communications e.g. if it's over a wide area then there will be people attempting to call for emergency services during the outage who won't be able to get through (although this is mitigated somewhat by the availability of alternate communications channels like mobile telephones).

        The EU identifies communications in the critical infrastructure that could be targetted by terrorists:

        Many of the villages around where I live have had this happen on several occasions; the current laws on theft and criminal damage don't seem to be a deterrent.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > My point about terrorism is that destuction of infrastructure by thieves has similar consequences to actual attacks on infrastructure;

          My first reaction to this was "no, of course not, otherwise you could say all crime was terrorism of one sort or another".

          However, on reflection, perhaps we are confusing things a little here. The key aspect to this is not terrorism per se, but the cumulative effect of the said act. Certainly, I would like to see stiffer sentencing based on the fallout of the crime, which in the case of pinching back bone cables of this sort (and rail signalling infrastructure, of course) would be obvious to the perpetrators.

        2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          No, blowhard, a thousand times no to your Terrorism idea.

          There's too much shit categorised as terrorism already - going to protests, carrying bags, wearing coats in summer, being irish/asian depending on the decade. The police have more powers under the prevention of terrorism act, so suddenly everything is a possible terrorist act. I'd like to see LESS stuff categorised as terrorism. Shoot someone while shouting something political? It's murder. Don't let them dress it up in a cause.

          Anyway, using your argument, as you're clearly damaging the economic output of the country why not just go the whole hog and call it treason?

    2. 's water music


      > They should treat this as terrorism; okay, the objective isn't to intimidate the public, but the overall result in loss of services is similar, and has a big impact on people's ability to conduct business.

      In a sense, copper theft knocking out teh fones and interwebz is worse than terrorism. A value-free fucktard sense that is. It might make sense to utilise anti-terrorism legislation to detain copper thieves though. That seems to work out well in general.

    3. TitterYeNot

      Re: Terrorism

      "They should treat this as terrorism."

      No, not terrorism, just theft. But treating it as follows:-


      Judge - "What does your client plead, counsel?"

      Barrister - "Guilty M'Lud. <Whispers to client> Don't worry, you're only looking at a small fine plus community service for theft of this value. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy."

      Judge - "Prisoner, step forward for sentencing."

      <Thief steps forward, smirk firmly in place.>

      Judge - "Well, the sentencing guidelines say that as the value of metal stolen is less than £1000 and you have no previous convictions, the starting point for sentencing is a £200 fine and 100 hours community service."

      <Thief's smirk spreads further across his face.>

      Judge - However, as the expert witness conservatively estimated that your actions affected <looks down at notes> around half a million people for nearly a week, we bring in a multiplier for every thousand people that your crime affected."

      Thief - "But...but...but..."

      Judge - "How does 15 years suit you, you selfish little fuck? <Bangs gavel.> Take him down..."

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Terrorism

        I would so like to see a judge call someone a 'selfish little fuck'. No, really. We need more down to earth pithy comments in our judicial system.

        Oh, plus it's funny.

      2. Christoph

        Re: Terrorism

        "we bring in a multiplier for every thousand people that your crime affected."

        Exactly. Penalise them for the consequential damages.

        When they cut the cable they know for a certain fact that it will cause great inconvenience and expense to a large number of people, and endanger the lives of some.

        They are deliberately causing that harm by a criminal action. I see no reason they cannot be penalised for that harm. But then that would be logical, and this is a matter of law :-(

      3. Fuzz

        Re: Terrorism

        Judge - "How does 15 years suit you, you selfish little fuck? <Bangs gavel.> Take him down..."

        sounds like a great system, of course UK judges don't have gavels.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Terrorism

          You will all know that our prisons are empty. Criminals are deterred from criminal activity precisely because punishments of the type you are proposing are so effective and therefore, despite this anomally, we can all look forward to un-interrupted broadband service in the future.

        2. TitterYeNot

          Re: Terrorism

          "UK judges don't have gavels."

          Guilty as charged. I plead dramatic effect and artistic licence as mitigating circumstances...

        3. Captain DaFt

          Re: Terrorism

          "of course UK judges don't have gavels."


      4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Terrorism

        If the same principle was applied to south West trains and whoever does the maintenance on the M1

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sod terrorism, they should treat it as photography. That'll see the bastards suffering.

  6. Big-G

    Since when did severing fibre, bring any scrap value from copper cables?

    1. rh587 Silver badge


      "Dont repair it, replace with fibre as and when this happens "

      I did think that when OpenReach fixed our line just before Christmas (not theft, just storms). But of course compared with replacing a segment of copper with copper, it requires updating the hardware at both ends. You can't lay FTTP to replace someone's busted copper link if you haven't got an infinity cabinet at the end to plug it into. Did we want it fixed today, or in 18 months after they'd got planning permission, sited a new cabinet, found a power supply to run the active electronics, etc, etc.


      "Since when did severing fibre, bring any scrap value from copper cables?"

      Probably collateral damage. If the damage was along railway lines (a good place to run trunk fibre as they have big conduits already which makes installation cheap rather than having to bury it, and it tends to connect towns and cities in a fairly straight line), then the conduit is usually packed with a mix of railway signal gear, power lines and fibre alongside - some collateral damage is to be expected when they extract the copper in the fastest way possible. Slice the lot and pull on anything with metal in the middle.

    2. Pavelow

      Probably because the morons who cut the cable can't tell the difference between Fibre Optic and Copper cable.

      1. Jediben

        It's just a shame more of them don't get HV included in the mix as well. Would help keep the numbers down.

        1. Fatman

          RE: Keeping the numbers down.

          It's just a shame more of them don't get HV included in the mix as well. Would help keep the numbers down.

          My sentiments exactly.

          Imagine if the fiber (or is it fibre?) were 'shielded' by a metal wrap that was connected to something like 12kV? That would hurt as the moron cut through the outer jacket.

  7. Phil W

    Fibre or Copper?

    Which is it that was cut/stolen?

    El Reg state at the beginning of the article that it's Fibre, but the BT posting doesn't mention the type of cable.

    If it's Fibre, and they've tried to take it to a local scrap merchant, perhaps he will report the idiots that tried to trade it in as copper?

    1. DragonLord

      Re: Fibre or Copper?

      The article said that the fibre was cut while thieves were looking for copper cable to nick.

      Other commenters have mentioned that when they find there's no copper the thieves can go on a hacking spree.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The biggest hurdle

    In dealing with this crime is to allow the police force to effectively deal with the particular groups who are at the forefront of this.

    In Bedfordshire our oh so politically correct police commissioner and chief constable have deemed certain minority groups can only be arrested for "significant crime" which means things like oil theft and general metal theft are ignored even when you have caught them in the act.

    One of these particular groups has a full setup with an industrial cable stripping machine and various pulley and winch equipped vehicles to drag the cable out of the ground but somehow the laws regarding "intent", "going equipped" and "conspiracy" are magically not applicable.

    Once we deal with the issues of inequality in how the law is applied this problem could be resolved very quickly but that would require upsetting some Guardian readers and apparently thats a step too far.

    1. Terry Barnes

      Re: The biggest hurdle

      "In Bedfordshire our oh so politically correct police commissioner and chief constable have deemed certain minority groups can only be arrested for "significant crime"

      Do you have any evidence for that? A cite? A link?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. 's water music

          Re: The biggest hurdle

          upvoted for calling Baconface a Terry Christian look-a-like

  9. Michael 28

    Not Uncommon


    "Gravity still works."

    (28 July 2007, Czech Republic) A pack of thieves attempted to steal scrap metal from an abandoned factory in Kladno. Unfortunately for them, they selected the steel girders that supported the factory roof. When the roof supports were dismantled, the roof fell, fatally crushing two thieves and injuring three others.

    (21 June 2007, Philippines) Three entrepreneurs planned to profit from stolen scrap metal. They entered a former US military complex and approached the prize: an abandoned water tank. Bedazzled by the potential upside, the three threw logic to the wind, and began to cut the metal legs out from under the tank. Guess where it fell? Straight onto the thieves. Their flattened bodies have not yet been identified.

    (31 July 1997) Two teens were disassembling an electric tower with wrenches when it toppled to the ground. They apparently wanted to sell its aluminum supports for scrap, but they failed to realize the essential role the aptly named "support" plays in a 160-foot tower. One of the men was crushed by the collapse of the ten-thousand-pound tower, while the other dug himself out from under, a sadder but wiser man. Reference: Associated Press

    Darwin notes, "These thieves are playing a deadly game of Jenga! A new target is the lead roofing of ancient churches. This entire category may soon become too common to win further awards, per the Rule of Excellence. See also Barn Demolition."

    I would include the following myself.


    "Significant Past Incidents

    At the Dijon conference the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reported that it is notified of about 200 lost or stolen radioactive sources each year and that since 1983 20 sources had been accidentally melted at steel works and other foundries. According to other sources, 65 meltings have occurred world-wide 9. IAEA says it is aware of 49 meltings world-wide at 1998:"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    In other news...

    ...GCHQ announced a major new tap has been positioned on UK infrastructure. The operation took longer than planned and was initially bodged, but the syphon is now in place.

  11. Chemical

    We are dealing with the same idiots

    They're stealing the earth bonding from sub station transformers.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lazy BT

    Near my village, and on a busy road, there has been a BT red and white 3 sided barrier around a BT access slab on the grass verge, it also had BT sand bags to hold it down.

    This has been there for months, no BT workers have been seen working on it, BT vehicles pass it regularly when coming to the village.

    I do not understand why it is not removed. Recently the sandbags have dis-appeared, what a great advert for any thief.

  13. sparkeh9

    "People can call anonymously and free on 0800 555 111."

    Not if their cable has been nicked!

    1. Callam McMillan

      Damn, you beat me to it.

    2. Dave Harvey

      Once the cable's gone, they need to use their mobile

      At 43p a minute, as we all know how much "extra" it costs the mobile companies to connect to an 0800 number!

      And yes, I know that "some" networks have given crimestoppers a dispensation, but that's no reason why crimestoppers shouldn't be able to quote a "real" number as well!

      1. Lockwood

        Re: Once the cable's gone, they need to use their mobile

        According to the intarwebs, it's 01883 731336

  14. MJI Silver badge

    Put a high voltage on these

    1 wire a high voltage, fry them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Put a high voltage on these

      I worked at Manchester Royal Infirmary a couple of years ago when they shut down one of the outlying hospitals. The site was locked up and chain-link fencing erected, but someone forgot to turn off the power. Three 'travellers' broke in and tried to steal the copper, not realising the cables were still live. One died, one had his ears blown off and the other ended up with brain damage.

      I would have said that this was quite sad, but then their mother tried to sue the hospital for negligence!

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime
        Thumb Up


        Given that 2 survived I'd say the hospital was negligent too.

        Wait... what?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Put a high voltage on these

        Given the mother's action, how could they tell that the son was brain damaged and not just normal for him?

    2. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Put a high voltage on these

      1 wire a high voltage, fry them!

      Reminds me of a joke security sign I once saw.

      "These premises are protected by shotgun security 1 day per week: You guess which day!"

  15. Pen-y-gors

    Time for a Sting?

    Couldn't some nice people buy some old copper from BT and tout it round all the scrappies in an area and see who is willing to pay cash?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time for a Sting?

      Sorry to downvote you, but as alluded to elsewhere in the forum, now most UK scrappies are legit and have to take ID, you just get gangs exporting the metal en masse.

      It's the same with high end cars that get stolen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time for a Sting?

        Would it be that hard for Dover customs to spot a transit van full of scrap metal? Is exporting scrap metal legal anyway?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time for a Sting?

        Yep, that Law of Unintended Consequences is a real bitch!

  16. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    I wish people would stop blaming the average scrap merchant.

    Large scale copper theft is organised and legit scrap merchants never really did touch it.

    The cables are cut as an entire bundle (fibre as well), dragged out with a winch onto a drum, the whole lot stuffed into a 40foot container somewhere then shipped out via wherever as 'recycled waste material'. Nobody can tell the difference ... it's probably on the ship next to the container with two Range Rovers and a BMW for someone in Illigitimatostan ...

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      I don't know about the situation over there, but when scrap disappears in the US, the scrap dealers are indeed in on it.

      They're stealing A/C units since they have a lot of copper coil, and it got so bad the Florida cops did do the "shop some copper coil around" sting, and netted no fewer than 17 no-questions-asked scrap dealers. Unfortunately the link to the story in the local fishwrap no longer works. One guy's in the slammer for 4 years because they also discovered a couple TONS of MARKED muni piping.

  17. pw98

    It effected us here in shore-ditch for the whole day, line busy and then a "due to high network connection we could not process this call" it was around 17 fibre cables cut and effect most of London and south!

    It happened 2.5k ish from southgate north London.

    Cost of copper is on the slow down along with normal metal etc. but a afternoons work of clean copper aka all the plastic wrap etc cut off is worth alot more then running round in your transit trying to find the odd bit of scrap. Easy to cut and easy to strip down / melt if need be.

    The whole id / bank transfer no cash etc has killed alot of people off but we now have a black market in scrap and some scrap yards will still pay cash no question asks.

    As to the scrap man asking where it come from, you turn up with a ton of copper to weigh in, he pays out 4k and sells it on for 20 / 30% on top. easy 10 minute transaction. They are not going to care.

    still nice, to see the police, imgration, Department of work n pensions and everyone else out side the scrap yard every so often, do cacth alot of people playing the game.

    1. Da Weezil

      .....And ridiculously you require ID etc to sell a car to a breakers yard, despite the vehicle having its own ID and a V5 document they included businesses that only process end of life vehicles.

  18. orb8

    Wish the police were allowed 50,000v 5A tasers!

    1. Anonymous C0ward

      Where are they going to find an easily portable 250kW power source?

      1. orb8

        A portable 350.12hp generator on a trailer would do fine :)

      2. Stoneshop


        is a lot if you need it continuously. However, you only need it for the brief moment the source is connected to the thieving scrote. For that workload a pack of beefy-Li-Ions and something not unlike a Tesla coil will do just fine. Also, the current drawn will be dependent on the target body's resistance, and needs not be higher than 100mA.

        A medium-sized laptop battery is 50Wh, roughly. Ignoring conversion losses it would be able to deliver 50kV at100mA for a little over half a minute.

  19. Disgruntled of TW

    It's a positive step for UK broadband

    If only BT were smart enough to put fibre back in the ground after the copper was knicked. After all, it is broadly agreed that an 80% civil engineering cost overhead is required to put cables into the ground, so why wouldn't they capitalise on their civil engineering repair costs and upgrade it to fibre?

    Lower maintenance, longer lifespan, future proof ... but wait. That would decimate BT's leased line business, and not help their BDUK race to the bottom DSL technology deployment dead-end.

    Ah well ... coat, grabbed, gone.

    1. Black Betty

      Re: It's a positive step for UK broadband

      Not so easy. BT would either have to strip out more cable, all the way back to an exchange where a fiber access point was available, or splice in multiplexers and demultiplexers at each end of the break.

      Either way you're looking at massively increasing the length of the outage.

  20. LaeMing

    Transport them to Australia!

    They can then steal all our copper so we can get a real broadband installation.

    (Yes, I know they wouldn't bother nicking last-mile runs, but one can dream, dammit!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Transport them to Australia!

      We tried sending all the thieves to Australia before, but all we got was Australians.

  21. Splatcat

    Yes, I know they wouldn't bother nicking last-mile runs, but one can dream, dammit!

    Yes officer, they must have done it at the same time, honest.

  22. Mark2410

    easily fixed

    The problem it BTs network is old, slow and full of copper?

    Bt updates and makes it copper free from end to end. Win for all then I'd say!!!!

  23. hoola Silver badge

    Low Risk, Easy Money

    The real problem is that the chances of getting caught are very low. They will have gone in and looked like thery were official. No one will have noticed anything abnormal, other that BT. Unless CCTV is at the locations then the chances of catching then in the act is very difficult. The back street scrappies are the next problem. The Govenernment has tried to tighten up on this but there will always be scroats out there that will take in dodgy stuff and fence it, making a tidy profit.

    It is not that long ago that some complete a$$h0les stole some ware mermorial plaques. They did eventually turn up, in pieces. Whoever took them in knew exactly what they were & it would be obvious to even a total moron that they were stolen.

    Unfortunately the Uk legal system will only take into account the value of the material taken. Whilst that may run to a few thousand pounds, the resulting impact is huge. To get this sort of change through the system will take years (although this issue has also been aroudn for years, so that is not an excuse).

    The only way to make progress is to catch the people at the point the theft is being committed. Trouble is that the damage will still have been done........

  24. Ed_UK

    Other Darwin Winners and Runners-up

    " Martin Gavin, aged 47, of Hope Hey Lane, Little Hulton suffered an electric shock of 11,000 volts which left his life hanging in the balance."

    " A 33 year old man lost his life after attempting to steal copper cabling from an electric substation in Urago d’Oglio, near Brescia in Italy."

    " A MAN was in a critical condition last night after suffering horrific burns in a suspected attempt to steal copper from an electricity substation.

    The unnamed victim, thought to be in his early 20s, staggered into hospital with 60 per cent burns..."

    " A man who tried to force his way into an ENMAX power station in southeast Calgary was found dead by emergency crews on Thursday morning."

    " A BOY of 16 was killed by a 275,000 volt cable at an electricity substation in Leeds at the weekend.

    Officials blamed the incident on an attempt to steal cable."

    " A man is fighting for his life in hospital with severe burns believed to have been sustained as thieves allegedly tried to steal metal from an electricity substation."

    "James Sorby, 22, was burnt so badly that his daughter was unable to recognise him. He had been trying take cabling from an electricity sub-station in a disused Post Office sorting room in Leeds, West Yorks." ** Nice picture of said moron **

    Ed's note: A lot of crap journalism out there; "electrocuted" means _killed_ by electricity, not just hurt. If they're still breathing then they're not electrocuted, and no Darwin Award. Sorry.

  25. JaitcH

    Some Canadian Telco's ...

    print, in large yellow type, FIBRE OPTIC-FIBRE OPTIQUE on the outer plastic sheath of cables. Bilingual signs are mandatory!

    Seems that cable thieves are quasi-technical, damage to fibre is way below that of copper.

  26. JaitcH

    Pure bloody unfounded prejudice

    @ frank ly:

    I guess England has never had the Kray Brothers, the Train Robbers, etc. - all pre-bred English people.

    My aunt lived out in the country with a famous line of pure bred dogs, nearby a Travellers site (legal). She fell over one day and couldn't move. One Traveller noticed the change in the dogs barking and he investigated, then called the police.

    The aunt never lost a thing to theft - in fact the Travellers even kept an eye on her premises when she attended dog shows.

    I suspect immigrants do less major crime than English-born people on a percentage basis.

    P.S. LY doesn't sound too English, either.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Could not the more intelligent thieves use an audio cable tracer to detect metal cable?

    Around metal cables there will be some electrical field but with fibre optic (unless they have metal shielding or bundled power that radiates some how) they won't. Listen to the large back cable and hear nothing like data? move on.

    With Time Domain Reflectometers on fibre it should be fairly easy to locate a break (and damage location) so educate the thieves that not only is it more profitable to identify metal cable it should reduce the chance of getting caught. I know it doesn't deal with the problem but should reduce the damage to fibre bundles.

    I remember as a kid (70's) seeing gas bottles attached to telegraph poles in Essex so BT could detect pressure loss and cable theft, it was a regular occurrence back then, have techniques not kept up with the threat?

    Another missing piece in this data protection society is the responsible local resident knowing the danger points, if there is a risky location by a farm why not let the farmer know? We'll keep and eye on your stock of you keep an eye on ours. It's all so bloody secret now nobody is meant to know the bloke next door is burglar, to protect his privacy you understand. It's "don't trust anyone just get them all to pay for the loss" gone mad ;-)

  28. halftone

    I'd like to know more

    Despite BT's quoted claim that service would be 'restored by Friday', it was 3hrs short of a week before we had phone service (& ADSL) restored in Hanwell W7, on an 840 exchange business line. It came back 0830 today (Tuesday). This is the second outage in 6months, the previous was 3 days.

    There are no FTTC cabinets round here - no Infinity, ever apparently - because the copper is suspended on poles back to the exchange.

    I'd have moved to Virgin cable by now if it wasn't for their tariffs, their traffic shaping, their absence of fixed IP and their local reputation for sheer bloody ostrich in dealing with problems on this lump of ex-NTL network.

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