Stolen cables cost Eircom €600,000
Thieves are targeting the cables for their valuable copper content
Eircom had 37,000m of telephone cable stolen last year. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg
Criminal gangs, some using cherry-pickers and other heavy machinery, stole more than 37,000m of telephone cable from Eircom’s live network last year, costing the company nearly €600,000 to replace.
The gangs, operating in remote rural areas where they are less likely to be detected, are targeting the cables for their valuable copper content.
In one recent incident, some 2,400m of wire was cut from poles in Finea, Co Cavan, in one night, causing widespread disruption to phone and internet services in the area.
Eircom investigations manager Michael Finnerty said the company dealt last year with 157 incidents of live cable theft, which he described as a “serious menace” to the company’s landline network.
He pinpointed counties Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary and more recently Cavan as “black spots” where there had been a spate of thefts recently. Mr Finnerty was speaking at the launch of a metal theft awareness campaign in Dublin yesterday, organised by Crimestoppers, and prompted by a recent upsurge in incidents of metal theft.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Derek Byrne said the force was dealing with about 2,500 incidents of metal theft a year.
At a time of high global demand for raw materials, thieves were targeting many types of metal, typically lead and copper but also, increasingly, steel, he said.
Items reported stolen included beer kegs, copper wire, road signs, manhole covers, roofing lead and even goalposts.
There have also been a number of high-profile thefts of precious objects including public sculptures and religious relics.
“The rising demand for metal on the international market has pushed the price of metal upwards and has made it a more attractive criminal enterprise,” the assistant commissioner said.