Thieves swipe underground copper cable in Cumbernauld

TELEPHONE lines in Abronhill went dead, cutting off vital communication for 500 residents – after thieves removed UNDERGROUND CABLES from a main road under cover of darkness.

Thursday, 9th June 2011, 11:35 am

The News has learned that the theft occurred in Forest Road around 2am last Monday – and police believe it kicked off when a team of men arrived in a van or flatbed truck with cutting equipment in tow.

They yanked away at manhole covers and quickly gained access to the complex network of BT wiring underneath, hacked away at it and stuffed it into their van.

The sneak thieves then drove away into the night.

As the cables are made of copper, the thieves were clearly hoping to profit from the booming trade in scrap metal which can command high prices in criminal circles.

Emergency engineers were despatched to the site after the alarm was raised by residents who found an alternative means of contacting police, but it is understood that some individuals did not have full power restored to their landlines until FRIDAY.

This was confirmed by a spokesman for BT who shed further light on the incident – after admitting that the company has seen an increase on this unusual form of theft.;

He told the News: “More than 400 people have been arrested across the UK for stealing from our network in the past year.

“We are deploying ‘SmartWater’, a forensically-coded invisible paint that that ‘tags’ metal thieves and protects the telecoms network in our region and across the UK.

“We also announced last week that we are joining forces with Crimestoppers and are offering up to £1000 reward for information leading to a conviction,’’ he added.

Area Inspector Stevie Hazlett of Cumbernauld Police added: “I would ask that anyone who sees what appears to be workmen at remote locations removing inspection covers at odd times of the day to contact police in order that their authenticity can be verified.

“As well as the monetary value of the loss, peoples lives are endangered as phone lines are cut off and emergency alarms for the vulnerable and elderly can be interrupted.”

Anyone with information on those responsible should contact Cumbernauld police on 01236 503900 or alternatively Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.”