Disconnection of phone lines in Hambrook could have been ‘very dangerous’

The attempted theft of BT cables from the ground which caused phone and broadband lines to go down in Hambrook could have had ‘far-reaching repercussions’, a district councillor has said.

Lines were down in Hambrook for about three days and it is believed thieves accessed the lines using manholes in the road.

In a separate incident phone lines were down for almost a week in Tangmere and Boxgrove and were not fully operational until November 16. The cause of the disconnection is not yet known.

Bosham and Chidham district councillor Myles Cullen said there could have been far-reaching repercussions after the phone lines went down.

“The frightening thing is we have care homes and nursing homes in the area and some people would not have been able to make emergency calls,” he said.

“If nursing homes do not have landlines it could be very dangerous.”

BT said it received around 120 faults in the area, but said all services should be restored to normal now.

A BT spokeswoman said: “There was an attempted theft and a cable was cut outside Bosham Lodge on November 16 and we have worked on Main Road to put in new cable.”

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “This was reported to us as an attempted theft of BT cables from the ground. “They did not manage to steal them but they have been cut in the Main Road, Bosham overnight November 15 from 6pm to 10am on November 16, affecting BT phone lines and internet. The attempted theft is being investigated.”

In October 2010 residents and schools in Tangmere and Boxgrove were left without their phone lines after thieves made away with 600m of copper cable that connected them all.

The theft of metal is a growing problem in the UK affecting many industry sectors. The current cost to the UK economy of metal theft is estimated at £770m per annum.

This crime is directly fuelled by the increase in the price of metals. The price of copper has risen threefold since 2009.

BT has a Metal Theft Task Force which started in February 2010 and covers the UK. They focus their resources in deploying preventative measures to secure the network.

They work closely with the law enforcement agencies after incidents to ensure those involved are caught and prevented from offending again.