Police Arrest Four Over BT Cable Theft In North Yorkshire

Openreach has confirmed that its engineers had worked around the clock for two days to restore telephone and broadband to 200 homes, after a cable theft in North Yorkshire.

Yorkshire police reported that four men, aged 21, 38, 43 and 52, had been arrested in connection with the theft of a BT cable at the BT cable junction box on the B6265 between Little Ouseburn and Green Hammerton (northwest of the city of York).

The incident was first reported at 11.11pm on the 8 of August 2022. A short time later the four men were arrested when police officers pulled over their white van which was displaying false registration plates and had been stolen.

Cable theft

According to the police, the 21-year-old man has been charged with Driving While Disqualified and Driving without insurance.

He remains on bail for a number of other offences.

The three other men have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

The repairs to the cable took a couple of days for Openreach engineers to fix, and disrupted hundreds of local residents.

“Cable theft and attacks on our network cause significant damage and unacceptable disruption to the lives of local people through the loss of phone and broadband services,” an Openreach spokesperson told Silicon UK.

“This particular attempted cable theft impacted around 200 homes and businesses in the local area, with engineers working round the clock for several days to repair the damage,” said the spokesperson.

“Openreach works closely with police and makes use of a range of security deterrents to deter and gather evidence on those responsible for damaging our network, and we’re continuing to deploy additional security measures locally to protect our network from future attacks,” the Openreach spokesperson added.

“We’re also appealing to members of the public to be our eyes and ears and would ask people to call 101 to report any suspicious activity to the police,” the spokesperson told Silicon UK. “Examples include seeing people lifting manhole lids or unusual activity around our network late at night, particularly if it involves 4×4 vehicles.”

“If members of the public believe a crime is in progress then they should dial 999,” the spokesperson said.

Ongoing problem

The issue of cable theft has been an ongoing problem for years for BT and other carriers around the world.

In July 2010 for example, BT announced it was deploying ‘SmartWater’, an invisible solution which can be used to forensically ‘tag’ metal thieves and protect the telecoms network.

The theft of copper from telecoms lines is a well documented problem in countries such as South Africa and India, where copper is regularly stolen thanks to the high price that scrap copper can fetch.

In 2012 BT introduced a new alarm system to fight metal theft, with a system (called Rapid Assessment BT Incident Tracker – or RABIT) that can detect when a cable has been cut or damaged, alerting the company and law enforcement of a possible cable theft.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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