Rise in copper cable thefts in Hampshire as village cut off from phone line and broadband

Watch: Police tell ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee the public need to remain vigilant following a spike in cable thefts

Residents and businesses in a Hampshire village who fell victim to thieves who stole copper cables from telephone and broadband networks have said they feel "cut off" from the outside world.

The copper cables were stolen at the end of April with more than 120 phone lines disrupted, including that of the local post office.

It happened two weeks ago in Everton, near Lymington, with the phone lines being restored on Tuesday (14 May).

Barry Morgan from Everton stores said: "The main thing is the community, a lot of the elderly depend on us and they ring in orders and it's not been happening.

"We've had to go round knocking on doors to see if they need an order for the following week - so it's a bit frustrating."

Hampshire Police says there has been an increase in thefts, and a map has been published showing the hot spots spots for metal theft in March and April this year.

More than 120 homes in Everton, including the post office, had their broadband and phone lines cut off after theives stole copper cables. Credit: ITV News Meridian

They say industrial sites and solar panel farms are often targeted, with thefts up by nearly 50%.

The force added that thieves may target locations such as railway lines, electricity sub-stations, water/sewage works, hospitals, schools, building sites, scrap yards, storage yards, historical sites, cemeteries and war memorials, farms, solar farms, churches and battery storage.

Officers in the county are now asking for the public's help to spot bogus workmen.

Sergeant Stuart Ross said: "They may be wearing the standard high vis equipment and make it look like they are legitimately working on the land, but this is where the public need to be extra vigilant and report these incidents if it feels suspicious.

"Any information we get from the public we take very seriously and we will do the necessary inquiries to identify who you are and we will take a strong course of action with our partner agencies to clamp down on this."

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