Reward offered for information about cable theft which left hundreds in Kent disconnected

  • Video report by Andy Dickenson

A reward is being offered for information that helps to bring a conviction, after a series of thefts of cables in Kent which left hundreds of residents and businesses disconnected.

Large sections of live cable were pulled from the underground network at Horsmonden Road, Brenchley on Thursday, 2 June. This location was repeatedly targeted again on Saturday 11 June and twice in May.

Other locations affected by the outages include Brenchley, Wateringbury, Benenden, Bethersden, Loose, Gillingham and New Ash Green, where vital equipment was stolen and attempts were made to damage the cables, by cutting them.

The thefts all happened between 11pm and 4am.

Damage was also caused to street furniture and farmland, where cables have been dragged through fields.

Openreach engineers are working as quickly as possible to restore services to those customers affected.

The theft and damage of cable in Kent has left hundreds of residents and businesses disconnected

Inspector Tom Pooley of Kent Police’s Tactical Operations department said: "The theft of communications cables can have a significant impact on communities and we have been providing advice to firms on the steps they can take to protect their equipment from criminals and keep their customers connected.

"We recognise that people living in rural areas may sometimes feel disproportionately affected by this type of crime and can therefore assure them that we take all reported incidents seriously. For example, on 22 June officers arrested a man within two hours of an alleged theft of broadband and telephone wiring in Horsmonden, near Tunbridge Wells, after tracking the movements of a suspicious car.

"Officers from our Rural Task Force continue to work closely with residents and businesses to help tackle a wide range of issues affecting rural communities including wildlife offences, thefts of farm machinery, fly-tipping and more. We encourage people who live and work in these areas to report any suspicious incidents to us as soon as possible, including via the Country Eye and Farm Watch apps that have been specially designed with rural communities in mind."

Crimestoppers said the impact and disruption of the cable theft "cannot be underestimated"

Mick Duthie from the charity Crimestoppers, said: "The people behind these crimes care little about the consequences or the fact that hundreds of residents and businesses have been badly affected with a loss of vital broadband, telephone and TV services. The impact and disruption cannot be underestimated.

"This is not a victimless crime and we are urging anyone with information on those behind the thefts to speak up. We know that some people feel unable to speak directly to authorities, which is why Crimestoppers is here to help. You can tell our charity what you know whilst protecting your identity and staying completely anonymous. We’ve kept that promise since we began in the 1980s."

Richard Ginnaw, Head of Security Services for Openreach, said: "These incidents have severely impacted the day-to-day lives of people across these areas of Kent throughout June.

"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, or know who is involved, please report it."

Up to £1,000 reward is being offered for people with information that results in a conviction.

People with information are being asked to call the Crimestoppers freephone 0800 555 111 or fill in their form online.