Powered by TMCnet
| More

Cable Technology Feature Article

February 22, 2010

Copper Theft Leaves Scottish Highlands without Phones

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Are we shocked? Not terribly. Folks have been stealing copper cabling for years, but it does take a certain panache to climb a telephone pole to do so wearing a kilt.
According to the BBC, police are looking for 'thieves who left many BT (News - Alert) customers in the western Highlands cut off by stealing thousands of dollars worth of telephone cable.' The thieves evidently used bolt cutters to strip almost 500 feet of cable from three poles, taking 500 feet of fiber optic cable from the scene for good measure.
Police said the theft took place on the A861 between Strontian and Salen at about 6:30 Sunday evening.
'Copper cabling can fetch between $2,300 to $3,000 a ton,' police said, adding that those responsible for the theft would have needed a van or truck, and may have been posing as workmen.
In November 2008 Compute Scotland reported that 'rail passengers in Scotland face growing disruption following a sudden rise in the theft of copper cables from railway lines, since soaring global prices for metals, fuelled by growing demand from China, has triggered a surge in metal thefts from Scotland's railway lines.'
Those zany Scots.
 'In Scotland thieves have struck 100 times so far this year on the country's rail network,' Compute Scotland reported, adding that 'this compares with 64 thefts during the whole of last year, and 46 in 2006. Police fear the problem could get worse as the crime becomes increasingly attractive during the economic downturn.'
British Telecom set up its own dedicated squad to clamp down on a crime that was costing the company more than $5.5 million a year, Compute Scotland reported.
Proving that it's not merely a Scottish trick, in December copper cable worth an estimated $31,000 was stolen from a South Wales fun park: 'Thieves are believed to have taken the cable in separate raids over two weekends at Barry Island Pleasure Park,' WalesOnline reported at the time.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Amy Tierney