A Welsh scrap metal dealer has pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods after he was discovered to be in possession of over £11,000 worth of broadband copper cable.
Fragments of copper along with cutting tools and three large wheels of BT cable were discovered on a site at Penplas Farm in Penplas rented by Gareth Price.
Nearby the site, police found the burnt remains of piping, set on fire to that the outer casing would melt and the copper could be retrieved.
Read our guide to BT’s anti-cable theft technologyLocal paper This Is South Wales reveals that police found a Transit van and a 4×4 vehicle with removed licence plates on Price’s property. Alongside more pieces of copper, officers also retrieved a petrol saw which had been reported stolen in 2008.
Theft of copper cable has spiked in recent years, owing to the rising demand for raw materials on the market. BT has worked closely with police forces across the UK to combat copper theft and the introduction of an early warning technology known as RABIT (Rapid Assessment BT Incident Tracker) and SmartWater has helped bring thieves to justice.
Not only is copper theft hugely irritating for local residents who find their broadband and phone services disrupted, it can have wider reaching consequences. In June 2012, an incident of copper theft in the north of England led to customers as far afield as the Shetlands suffering reduced services.
Judge Keith Thomas, sitting at Swansea Crown Court, said “This is a substantial problem to the courts in recent years. The price of copper on the scrap market is rising on a substantial basis and therefore thieves and other dishonest people in the community are attempting to remove cabling, some of which is still attached to electrical appliances, both in the public and private sectors in order to obtain substantial profits.”
Price, who admitted that his alcoholism was his primary motive for stealing copper, was handed a 12-month term, suspended for 18 months and has been made to attend an alcohol treatment programme.
Image: Karen Roe/Flickr