Metal Theft - an ongoing concern

I was pleased to see that, partly as a result of strong action taken by the coalition government, the problems caused by metal theft have significantly reduced.

But unfortunately the problem is very far from having entirely gone away. Metal thefts and attempted thefts continue if at a lower level, and remain capable of causing significant social damage and nuisance, including putting lives at risk.

An attack just before Easter by would-be metal thieves disconnected up to 4,000 telephone customers in Cheltenham, and it took twelve days for BT engineers working round the clock, including over the Easter weekend, to fully repair the serious damage they did to the network.

The criminals responsible entered a manhole and cut through two cables, apparently in an attempt to remove them. The fact that the cables had been cut was almost immediately detected and the location was found quickly, but restoring the connections was a very difficult and time-consuming operation to restore connections because only two engineers could work down the manhole at any one time and they had to reconnect every single line.

BT's local field manager Mark Jones paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of the engineering teams. Mark said: “We located faults on two 2,000 pair cables, but the nature and size of the cables and the way they had been cut severely impeded restoration of services.

“With the help of other operational managers and their teams within our region we were able to continue work on the repair throughout the Easter bank holiday weekend and beyond until all affected lines were reconnected.

“I would like to thank all managers and team members who got involved throughout unsociable times of day and night until the job was completed.”

Police are investigating this attempted theft and have appealed for people with any information about the attack to contact Crimestoppers. Work is in hand to enhance the physical security of the telephone network around the attack site.

It goes without saying that if any of the thousands of customers affected had needed to call 999 during the period they lost service and had not had access to an alternative phone system, lives could have been put at risk.

The metal theft gangs are and remain harmful parasites on the body of society, whose behaviour poses a completely unacceptable risk to the lives and welfare of others. The activities of these criminals needs to be stamped out.


Chris Whiteside said…
Off-topic - Jim, yes I did get your message. Thanks

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