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Virgin Media downed by thick Leeds 'copper' crooks

Er, that's glass, lads

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Virgin Media customers in Leeds are suffering their second major outage in a few days as a result of witless thieves ripping cables out in the belief they are made of valuable copper.

Instead, the raiders have made off with lengths of comparatively worthless glass fibre.

Engineers are currently working to repair the damage, which has meant downtime for large parts of the city's cable TV and internet network since the early hours.

It is understood that local police are investigating the incidents as part of a spate of copper thefts in the area. Gangs typically break a roadside cable and then attach it to the back of a truck or van to rip it from its shallow trench.

It's thought the same group responsible for this morning's outage also damaged cable on Saturday.

Copper has has almost doubled in value on the commodity markets in the last 12 months, prompting accompanying rises in its scrap price nationwide. Virgin Media rival BT, whose network does contain miles of thick copper cable where it has not upgraded to fibre, has increasingly been a victim.

A Virgin Media spokesman said: "Malicious damage was caused to our network in the LS11 area of Leeds resulting in loss of service for some of our customers.

"Our network engineers were dispatched immediately and restoration is currently underway and is being dealt with as a high priority.

"We take incidents like this extremely seriously. The police have attended the scene, our internal security teams have been notified and a full investigation is currently underway."

The firm encouraged anyone with information to contact police or call its own confidential hotline on 0800 096 7800. ®

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