BT Fights Copper Thieves With RABIT

Telecoms giant BT introduces a new alarm system to fight metal theft and keep its network running

A system that can detect when a cable has been cut or damaged, alerting the company and law enforcement of a possible cable theft, has been introduced by BT today.

Developed by the company, the Rapid Assessment BT Incident Tracker – or RABIT – monitors the whole of BT network, and can accurately pin-point an incident to a road or street. It will be used to counter the surge in metal theft, when criminals cut down valuable copper cables to sell them to scrap yards.

The RABIT’s foot

Stealing cable used to carry broadband and landline signal is a simple, yet profitable crime. After all, it is impossible to efficiently protect the cable network. Most scrap yards are willing to pay for the metal in cash, and will not ask questions about the origins of the copper wire. RABIT, which works like a burglar alarm for cables, is about to make this type of venture a lot more dangerous.

The system alerts BT’s Security Control Centre and Police response teams when cable thieves attack the company’s UK telephone and broadband network. A trial of the technology has already forced Essex cable thieves to flee the scene of the crime, empty handed.

“BT’s new burglar alarm on the network will make thieves think again. We are now able to inform the Police of the exact location of malicious network attacks and, if trials are anything to go by, it won’t be long before they start catching the thieves in the act,” said Luke Beeson, general manager at BT Security.

“In my view this technology will significantly improve Police response times to cable theft incidents and will act as a major deterrent to criminals engaged in this activity. More importantly, communities and businesses should see a sharp reduction in the disruption caused by this type of theft,” agreed Paul Crowther, deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police.

Cable theft is not a new problem. Back in 2010, BT announced a nationwide campaign in an effort to combat the increasing number of raids on its network. Same year, it also started using SmartWater, an invisible paint that can link thieves to the crime scene.

The numbers of arrests related to BT cable theft are continuing to rise, with the average number of arrests per month up nearly eight per cent on last year. BT has recovered 240 tonnes of stolen metal in the past eleven months. The company claims cable theft costs the UK economy £770 million a year, and says that rising copper prices will see a continued increase in theft.

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