A TEENAGER and a man have been locked up after being caught red-handed stripping thousands of pounds worth of copper cable.
The prison terms have been welcomed by telecoms chiefs fighting a long-running battle against metal thieves - particularly in Doncaster where several villages and towns have been left isolated as a result.
Footage by a police helicopter captured David Michael O’Loughlin, 44, of Stocksbridge Lane, Bentley, and 18-year-old Geoffrey Smith, of Goole, cutting up lengths of copper and lead BT cable with a power saw.
O’Loughlin received 14 months at Doncaster Crown Court after admitting handling stolen goods. His junior accomplice pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property and received ten months in a young offenders’ institution.
Prosecutor Neil Coxon told the court that police were tipped off that stolen cable was being stripped in a field off Stocksbridge Lane.
The pair had taken a total copper content of half a kilo and 0.6kg of lead which Mr Coxon it would cost around £11,000 to replace despite its scrap value being less than £3,500.
Both men, who have criminal records for dishonesty, refused to comment in police interviews, but Smith told a probation officer he would have received £30 from O’Loughlin, to buy cannabis.
Richard Sheldon, mitigating for O’Loughlin, said his client had been in custody for six months which was nearly enough to meet the appropriate sentence.
Michael Cane-Soothill, for Smith, said he had been a cannabis user since the age of 12 after his brother died. His usage went up when his father died last year.
Judge Jacqueline Davies said custodial sentences had to be imposed because metal theft caused potential danger and problems to society.