What we’re doing to tackle it
Copper is worth money, which means cable theft is a constant threat. And when cable gets stolen, it can cause problems with phone, broadband and TV services.
We’ve teamed up with the charity Crimestoppers, and we’re using anti-theft technology to help track stolen cable and help convict criminals.
We’re also working with other organisations like the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police and Network Rail, to tackle the problem together.
How you can help
If you see anything suspicious, please report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
We’re developing new ways to make it harder for thieves and vandals to attack our network. This is cutting the risk of problems with the phone, broadband and TV services we provide.
Along with making our cabinets and boxes secure, the whole of our network is alarmed and monitored 24hrs a day. This tells the police if anyone cuts our cables illegally. We’ve also upgraded the security of our cable stores, including putting in extra CCTV coverage in all Openreach and BT buildings.
2. Engagement and intelligence
We’ve invested in research to help us understand exactly what we’re up against, and the best ways to combat it.
Working closely with the police, we’ve developed intelligence-led approaches to help us crack down on organised gangs and secure the parts of our network most likely to be targeted for attack.
Our metal theft taskforce includes people from Openreach and BT Group security investigations. It’s helped secure several arrests since it was created.
We’ve also been using the media to raise awareness about the issue among other agencies and the general public – because we’re not the only industry targeted by metal thieves. As a result, we’re working together with the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police, Network Rail and the energy sectors.
3. Reducing the market for stolen goods
We’ve run campaigns across the country to let the public know that when our network goes down, it might be because of criminal activity rather than a fault. And we’ve worked closely with Government agencies to change legislation relating to the Scrap Metal Recyclers Act.
Since we teamed up with Crimestoppers in April 2011, we’ve worked to raise public awareness, increase vigilance and encourage people to report anything that helps protect the network. We’re pleased to say this has helped us get several convictions.
Since 2011 we've been working with the charity Crimestoppers as part of our crackdown on metal theft. We offer a cash reward of up to £1,000 for any information that leads to a prosecution.
An independent crime-fighting charity that isn’t part of the police or the Government.
The charity’s mission is to help detect, reduce and prevent crime by getting key information about crimes from anonymous sources. Crimestoppers doesn’t take people’s names or personal details, and the information it gathers can’t be traced or recorded.
How to contact Crimestoppers
If you think you can help us in the fight against metal theft, please contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Or you can go to their website.
Metal theft taskforce
The BT metal theft taskforce investigates anything involving the theft or damage of cable from our network.
Who’s in the taskforce?
It includes Openreach staff, and people from BT Group Security Threat and Intelligence, who’ve helped secure many arrests since it was formed.
We work closely with police forces across the UK, the British Metals Recycling Association and Crimestoppers to search for stolen cabling and prosecute thieves.
Disposing of waste cables the right way
We strictly control the recovery and processing of our own waste cables and never put these on the open market. BT and its contractors dispose of all recovered cable through Openreach as well – they never offer it directly to scrap metal dealers or recyclers.
Local authorities have legal powers to regulate the scrap metal trade in their area under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. That means all scrap metal dealers are legally obliged to keep records of all the metal they receive, store or sell.
Every one of our cables is marked with a unique item code. So we can easily identify any we recover.
How to check that metals and cables aren’t stolen
We’ve put together a cable identification guide which shows some of the types of cable we own. It doesn’t list them all though – so if you’re concerned about any cables you're handling, please contact our metal theft taskforce on 0800 321 999.