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Cable criminals cripple County Durham connections: Thousands left without internet or phone services

Authorities in Durham are appealing for clues to catch cable thieves who brought down phone lines and internet connections to thousands.

The criminals left thousands of residents in Billingham without services after lines were stolen on Norton Road, close to Billingham Bypass Road on Sunday, September 14, at around 11.20AM.

Nine BT cables were cut and BT said the lines won’t be restored until the end of this week, leaving residents understandably disgruntled.

Copper underground cables were stolen from Billingham in Durham
Copper underground cables were stolen from Billingham in Durham

Dave Hunter, North East Regional Manager for Crimestoppers, said: “This is a huge inconvenience to people who rely on their communication services, and for that reason, as well as the fact this is a crime, I would ask you to stand up for your community and contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through our Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org . Tell us what you know, not who you are.”

Crimestoppers and Openreach are now offering a reward of £1,000 to anyone who can identify the criminals, leading to an arrest and convictions, in the hope it will stop malicious damage happening to internet and phone infrastructure in future.

Back in January, copper thieves stole almost a kilometre of cables from Virgin Media’s network in West London over a week. The cables were taken between January 6 and 19 in an area covering Ruislip Manor and Northolt, and also left thousands of people without a connection.

However, some authorities are taking action against criminals lifting cables, with police in the Midlands foiling a scrap metal operation worth £100,000 in April, discovering lots of BT equipment in the process.

BT launched its RABIT (Rapid Assessment BT Incident Tracker) back in 2012, which makes it easier for BT and police to react fast and track down cable thieves, but it doesn’t necessarily stop the criminals in the first place.

 

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