rural communities are being urged to be on the lookout after a spate of high-value cable thefts across Suffolk.
Over the last 18 months, more than £500,000 worth of cable has been stolen from manholes in the area.
Often the thefts hit essential phone links used for emergency services and businesses, and leave people without any phone or broadband service for hours and sometimes days.
Suffolk Constabulary has teamed up with BT Openreach to highlight the problem.
Intelligence development officer Pc Paul Greenwood said: “Scrap metal is still fetching high prices and, along with lead and copper piping, we are seeing telephone cabling being stolen for its scrap value.
“We work closely with scrap yards throughout Suffolk, alerting them when there has been a theft reported and letting them know what to look out for if they are offered cabling for sale.”
He said thieves tend to target manholes by the side of the road, which are opened up and cables dragged out using a vehicle.
They often wear fluorescent jackets to look like genuine workmen.
“Farmers, gamekeepers, drivers and dog walkers will all regularly be out and about in the countryside – we want to hear from you if you spot an unmarked van next to an open manhole or an unattended open manhole, someone paying particular attention to the side of the road, or an unusual group of people and large vehicles in a field,” added Pc Greenwood.
“Not only is this type of crime costing a vast amount of money for our service providers, with the value of the cables themselves and the cost to put the damage right, it is putting people’s lives at risk if their telephone line is cut off and there is an emergency.”
Anyone with any information about cable thefts should call Suffolk Police on 01473 613500, or dial 999 if a crime is in progress.