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Copper thieves lift Virgin Media cables in northwest London

Cable thieves have stolen almost a kilometer of copper from Virgin Media’s network in West London over the last month. 

Criminals took 360 metres, 100 metres and 350 metres from Sidmouth Drive (pictured) and Filey Waye in Ruislip Manor and from Harvey Road in Northolt between January 6-19. 

Disruption to customers was said to be minimal and normal services have been restored.  

Mean Streets: Criminals targeted Sidmouth Drive in Ruislip

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “Theft of communication cables can have a significant impact on homes, businesses and crucial public services and we continue to work closely with the police to pursue reports of theft and prosecute those responsible.” 

According to reports from local news site Get West London, the copper was taken from underground trunking. 

It is thought that thieves would have had to remove two manhole covers to cut the cables at each end before removing them. They would have then had to pull the cabling out from one hoe before making off with the goods. 

Hillingdon police have appealed for witnesses to come forward and asked the public to report anyone acting suspiciously around manhole covers. 

Theft of copper from broadband networks can leave customers disconnected from broadband and phone services for several days. The Openreach tends to suffer more disruption as a result of thefts and has developed an early warning system called RABIT (Rapid Assessment BT Indicent Tracker) to help detect faults thought to be related to theft on its network. 

In December 2013 around 40,000 Sky broadband customers were left without broadband for days after thieves tried to snatch BT cables in west London. The theft also affected BT and TalkTalk customers in and around the Brentford area. Police have not said whether or not the two theft are connected. 

Wherever criminal gangs get their copper from, the Scrap Metal Dealers Act, introduced in 2013, will make it hard for them to sell their stolen goods on. 

Image: Geograph/Stacey Harris

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