INCOMPETENT thieves got nothing for the effort involved in stripping out 400 metres of copper cable in a village – because they left it behind.
But it took engineers a week to replace the cable and restore and check more than 200 connections for businesses in Delta Court, Armstrong House and the Hayfield Business Park.
And the week of disruption has enraged business owners affected as they struggled to work without internet and telephone connections. Workers could not access the car park either because the security barrier could not be lifted.
BT engineers were called to Blaxton after approximately 400 metres of cable had been pulled out along Mosham Farm Road.
The cable was found on farmland nearby. It had been set on fire to remove the insulation. It is presumed the thieves were interrupted, and had to make a getaway empty-handed.
Work to install a new cable can be done quickly, but the process of connecting customers to it is much slower, said BT spokeswoman Amy Walker. “Work began immediately to replace it and restore the services as soon as the theft was reported.
“Fitting the new cable is relatively quick, but then we begin the process of joining each customer back on to the cable one by one, which can be very time-consuming. At the peak 230 faults were reported to us,” she added.
The theft has been devastating for companies involved. “It cost me a small fortune,” said Simon Horseman of recruitment specialist Straco International on the Hayfield Business Park. “BT diverted my phone to my mobile, and because I’m in recruitment I can use the time to visit clients.
“People who steal cable like this have no idea of the damage they could be doing. What if the cables were part of a railway signal network? Someone could be killed,” he added.
John Robinson is managing director of neighbouring Subscan Technology. He said his Doncaster office-based survey manager lived relatively close, and had been accessing batches of email at home, and then going back to the office to work offline.
Speaking from the company HQ in Rugby he said: “Companies today rely on broadband access. Margins are so tight these days that companies cannot afford downtime like this.
“All small businesses are finding it tough, and it wouldn’t take much to push some of them over the edge,” he added.
The theft is the latest incidents of metal thieves targeting Doncaster’s communities. Previously areas including Bentley, Askern and Stainforth have been cut off. The problem of metal theft in the borough is so great that BT has named the town as a national hotspot for cable thieves.
The latest theft happened just before 1am on November 12.