Openreach calls for vigilance following Cambridgeshire cable thefts

Following a spate of cable thefts across Cambridgeshire, Openreach is asking rural communities to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity around its broadband network.

Since the start of the year, the Openreach network has been targeted by criminals on more than a dozen occasions – including at Sutton, Swavesey and Waterbeach - causing disruption to thousands of people living and working in dozens of local communities.

As well as knocking out phone and broadband, which can affect critical infrastructure including healthcare and the ability to contact the emergency services, it’s also pulling engineers away from other work. Repairing the damage typically takes days, if not weeks, with the repair bill often running into tens of thousands of pounds.

During a recent Rural Crimewatch event in Fenstanton, Openreach urged rural landowners to be alert to any unusual activity, particularly late at night, around any of its manhole covers, cables, poles and any other parts of the broadband network.

The company also reassured those attending that they’re doing all they can to catch those responsible, implementing a range of security innovations and approaches across the county.

Richard Ginnaw from Openreach’s security team, said: “We take cable theft very seriously. It’s hugely disruptive for people living in the areas affected, as people across Cambridgeshire have found out in recent months. It also involves a vast amount of engineering cost, resource and time to carry out repairs.

“Openreach works closely with police and whilst we don’t want to talk about exactly what we’re doing in particular locations for obvious reasons, we can say that we’ve got a range of security deterrents in place throughout the county and across the UK, with the aim of deterring and catching those responsible for damaging our network.

“Along with making our infrastructure as secure as possible, the whole of Openreach’s network is alarmed and monitored 24 hours a day. This tells us and the police if anyone interferes with our cables illegally – and enables us to respond quickly to restore services as soon as possible.

“We’re not the only industry or utility being targeted by metal thieves and we’re trying to tackle this collectively by working closely with the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police, Network Rail, the National Infrastructure Crime Reduction Partnership and the energy sectors.

“But we need members of the public to help us with their eyes and ears. Please report anything suspicious, particularly around our cables and manholes. If you see anything suspicious, report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You can also contact Openreach’s security team direct, or if you see a crime in progress, then call the police as soon as it’s safe to do so.”