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BT copper-cable choppers cop 16 months in the cooler

Thieves posed as workmen in raid that cut off hundreds

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Two men have been jailed for 16 months for nicking large volumes of copper cable from BT's network. The pair posed as workmen to swipe the metal, cutting off telephone and internet connections to hundreds of homes and businesses.

Daryl Carslake, 30, and Gavin Marriott, 28, both of Epsom, Surrey, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday. Both had admitted two counts of theft of cabling belonging to British Telecom.

They would have been jailed for two years but their early guilty pleas encouraged the judge to slash their jail-time to 16 months each.

Carslake and Marriott stole hundreds of metres of valuable BT copper cable from two separate locations in Teddington and Sussex in May 2012. The pair posed as engineers on both occasions, and used a large winch to extract the cabling via manholes and packed the expensive metal into a van.

The thieves grabbed 425 metres of cable during the Teddington raid on 9 May before the duo were challenged by a passing council permit officer.

The crooks fled the scene but not before the official had taken pictures of the pair and noted the registration number of their van. The same motor was used in a similar blag in Fernheath, Sussex, three weeks later. The pair cut off a large quantity of cable on 29 May before returning the following day to remove the wiring, which served up to 600 residents and businesses.

BT engineers called to the site after reports of connectivity problems, saw Carslake and Marriott arrive in their van, and called police. The pair were subsequently stopped and arrested by Surrey cops who caught Carslake and Marriott red handed with a large volume of cable in the back of their van.

Police computer checks against the van linked it to the theft three weeks earlier in Teddington, allowing cops in London to file a second set of charges.

Officers said the crimes committed by Carslake and Marriott were far from isolated.

Detective Chief Inspector Lee Hill of the London Crime Squad said: "Metal theft impacts upon the lives of tens of thousands of Londoners every year with telecommunication being cut off, and trains and transport disrupted.

"We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to bring those involved to justice. These sentences send out a strong message to those involved in this type of criminal activity and, hopefully, will deter others from doing so in the future."

Simon Davies, BT General Manager for cable theft, said: “This case highlights the often highly organised nature of metal theft by persons who are only concerned with maximising their proceeds from this crime and care nothing for the disruption they cause for communities.

"BT’s metal theft task force helped the Met and Surrey police forces to connect the incidents together, which led to the criminal activities of these individuals being brought to an end. The conviction and subsequent sentences are therefore very fitting.” ®

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