Wednesday July 17th saw Barlestone once again fall victim to scrap metal thieves as they attempted to pull out metres of copper telephone wiring from the A447 outside of the village.
Metal theives break into BT manholes and cut the telephone cable at two points along the road, then attempt to rip it out of the ground by tying it to a vehicle in order to cash in on soarng scrap metal values which have seen copper fetch as much as £6,000 a tonn.
Local residents and businesses such as the village Co-op were left without telephone and Internet services whilst BT OpenReach were left to repair the damaged lines. Service was restored to the village on Sunday morning.
As well as local businesses being unable to process credit card transactions, Barlestone Surgery was also left without telephone lines while the cable was being replaced. Furthermore, villagers were left without telephone lines of their own, meaning many would have been unable to call the emergency services should they have needed.
How This Can Be Prevented
The theft of scrap metal is at record levels due to spiralling metal prices for scap lead and copper. With BT’s telephone network in the rural area still being made of copper wire, this is a tempting target for opportunistic thieves who can remove large quantities of it and scrap it in for cash. However, such practises could be reduced with a few simple measures:
1) Upgrade the BT phone network to Fibre Optic. Fibre Optic cables are made of glass, and don’t have any scrap value to theives. BT are upgrading their network (to their 21st Century Network) however as yet there is no forecast date for Barlestone or surrounded villages served by Market Bosworth Telephone Exchange.
2) Enforce Waste Carriers Licences. Waste management laws dictate that any vehicle carrying waste must be able to document where the waste came from, and that they are licenced to carry it. If the police enforce waste management laws, theives would have a harder time carrying the stolen metal and disposing of it.
3) Eliminate the means to scrap stolen metal. Enforcing the law at scrap metal dealers not to accept telephone cable, manhole covers or any other suspect material would help deter the theives from stealing it in the first place. If scrap revenue was paid into bank accounts and not in cash, this would also deter many theives from using this as a means to make money illegally.
The theft of the telephone cabling outside of Barlestone was covered by the Leicester Mercury, who like us are appealing for anyone who knows anything about the thefts to claim £1,000 in reward money and to telephone 0800 555 111.
That is as if we all didn’t know anyway.