Openreach is offering rewards of up to £20,000 for information relating to recent copper cable thefts in the Cambridgeshire villages of Swavesey and Witchford, where residents, businesses, and emergency services have been left without the use of phones and broadband.
The incidents took place on Witchford Road in Ely on the evening of 2 January, as well as on Fen Drayton Road in Swavesey during the night of 4-5 January, with the thieves reportedly dragging the cables from the underground network with the help of 4x4 vehicles.
Openreach head of Security Services Richard Ginnaw said that the thefts had “severely impacted the day-to-day lives of people across these areas of Cambridgeshire”, which is why the company has decided to offer the £20,000 reward.
“We are working closely with the police to catch those who are responsible and have deployed additional security enhancements across the area, but we also need your help. Please be vigilant, and if you saw anything suspicious on or around the time of the incidents, please report it,” said Ginnaw.
Those who would like to avoid speaking directly to police can anonymously contact the charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or using an online form, he added.
Commenting on Openreach’s plea, Crimestoppers South East regional manager Annabelle Goodenough said that the high reward offer “reflects the huge amount of damage caused to services and the local environment, and the importance they place on the issue”.
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“This is not a victimless crime. With essential emergency services also being severely impacted by this, the potential devastating effect on human life cannot be underestimated,” said Goodenough, before urging “anyone with any information on those behind these thefts to speak to Crimestoppers completely anonymously”.
“We know that some people feel unable to speak directly to authorities, which is why our independent charity is here to help. You can tell us what you know while protecting your identity and staying 100% anonymous. Always. This promise has been kept since we began in 1988,” she added.
The recent thefts took place just miles away from the village of Cambourne, where in 2019 more than 2,200 people were knocked offline after thieves made away with 500 metres of Openreach’s copper cabling.
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