Chalgrove cable theft cuts villagers' phones

Residents in an Oxfordshire village are still without a phone connection after underground copper cables were stolen.

BT has had nearly 300 faults reported in Chalgrove since the theft on the morning of 31 August.

Extensive cable damage contributed to delays in fixing the service, BT said. The estimated scrap value of the cables is £20,000.

The company said it expected villagers' services to start coming back online from 9 September.

Amy Abela, BT media relations manager, said: "We discovered that several sections of the duct were clogged with lengths of damaged cable the thieves had not managed to pull out.

'Lives at risk'

"The duct route had to be freed of this cable before the new cables could be fed in. Several sections of the duct were also clogged with silt and had to be re-excavated and cleared.

"The new cables are now in place so we have now begun to restore service to customers one by one by jointing each one in turn back on to the new cable."

Nick Gilbert, crime reduction adviser at Thames Valley Police, said elderly residents were particularly affected by the loss in service.

"Lives are definitely being put at risk by people who have no concern for other people," he added.

BT and Crimestoppers are offering a reward of up to £1,000 for anyone supplying information that leads to a conviction for the cable theft.

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