Openreach Collaborates with Cambridgeshire Police to Combat Cable Thefts

Cambridgeshire Police are ramping up efforts to combat cable thefts in the region, urging residents to report any suspicious activity. This comes in response to a surge in criminal activity targeting underground copper cables that connect homes and businesses to the phone and broadband network.

Numerous instances of cable theft have been reported across Cambridgeshire, with recent incidents occurring in various locations, including A10 Waterbeach, A1198 Cambourne, Linton, Mepal, Soham, Somersham, Wickham, and Wooley.

Openreach, a critical player in the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure, has been particularly hard-hit, with its network suffering eight attacks in the past month alone. These criminal acts result in extensive damage, leaving hundreds of residents without access to phone or broadband services for extended periods.

The motivation behind these thefts appears to be the surging prices of scrap metals, particularly copper and aluminium, which have made cables an attractive target for thieves. Perpetrators often lift manhole covers located in grass verges or carriageways to gain access to underground cables, posing as legitimate contractors. Subsequently, they strip the plastic sheathing from the cables, burning it in fields to extract the valuable metal, which is then sold.

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Tebbit stated, “Cable thefts have increased in recent months with the high price of copper fuelling the activity. Our patrols have increased across the county, and we will also be working with partner agencies, including Openreach, to target suspects. We are committed to making it harder for cable thieves to operate in our county and we will be targeting areas we believe are at increased risk, but we can’t do it alone. We need the public’s help to report anything suspicious or anything they see that might not seem quite right, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. One call could make all the difference and potentially stop cables from being stolen.”

Richard Ginnaw from Openreach emphasized the serious consequences of cable theft, noting, “The loss of a phone line can affect really important services, including healthcare, as well as the ability to contact emergency services. It’s also pulling our engineers away from other work. Repairing the damage typically takes days, if not weeks, costing us tens of thousands of pounds. We’re working closely with the police, and we’re really grateful for their support.”

Jonny Rae

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