Openreach are offering a £20,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in a string of copper cable thefts in the Essex area.
Copper telecoms cable has become a common target for thieves as the price of copper is currently very high.
The thefts of Openreach’s broadband and phone cable have taken place in parts of Harlow, Epping, and Roothing, however, cable thefts are prevalent up and down the country.
The thieves typically rip the cables out of the ground with force, causing disruption to the phone and broadband services of local businesses and residents.
Metal thefts have been sporadic in recent times, however it is believed that organised gangs have begun to target critical infrastructure in areas with slow police response.
In Openreach’s case, large sections of cable were pulled from the ground in Sparrows Lane, Roothing on two separate occasions back in July. That same month, a cable was cut on the B181 in Epping Upland, and another was cut on the A1025 in Harlow.
Hundreds of Openreach phone and broadband customers have been affected by the damage, as well as essential emergency services in each area. Damage has also been caused to farmland and street furniture by the dragging of cables.
Head of Security Services for Openreach, Richard Ginnaw, said: “These incidents have severely impacted the day-to-day lives of people across these areas of Essex and this is why we have increased the reward on offer.
“We are working closely with the police to catch those who are responsible and have deployed additional security enhancements across the area, but we also need your help. Please be vigilant, and if you saw anything suspicious on or around the time of the incidents, please report it. If you prefer not to speak directly to police, contact the charity Crimestoppers anonymously.”
The fibre optic cables used in newer gigabit-capable broadband networks have no real scrap value, however thieves have also begun to rip these cables out hoping that they may be made of copper.
Anyone with information regarding these thefts should contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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