BASINGSTOKE is a hotspot for criminals who have been stealing miles of copper cables from industrial sites.

Organised criminals in the south are targeting industrial sites to steal copper cable, and police are urging people to report crimes and any suspicious activity around industrial sites as soon as possible.

Thieves may target locations such as railway lines, electricity substations, water or sewage works, hospitals, schools, building sites, scrap yards, storage yards, historical sites, cemeteries and war memorials, farms, solar farms, churches and battery storage.

The heat map below demonstrates the areas in the south, including Hampshire, that have been most affected by cable theft in particular between March 1 and April 26.

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Basingstoke Gazette: Basingstoke is a hotspot for copper cable theftBasingstoke is a hotspot for copper cable theft (Image: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary)

Copper cable theft sees offenders use a vehicle to drag cable a number of miles before it is cut down and prepared for onward sale. This activity is highly dangerous and poses a serious risk to life, in addition to the damage that is caused to street furniture during the process.

Police say that the financial impact is crippling, and it can also cause serious disruption to the country’s infrastructure, including transport delays, power cuts and loss of connectivity.

This type of crime has seen a 20 per cent increase compared to last year, and is prevalent across a number of areas in the UK. There have been reports of offenders stealing cable, before returning to the offence location at a later date to carry out a further theft of the repaired cable.

Large volumes of cable have been reported stolen in the south from solar farms, and in April police received two reports of suspicious individuals intruding on solar farms in the north of Hampshire after dark.

Police have warned readers to look out for these warning signs

  • Unmarked vehicles at or near access points, construction or building sites. Most organisations have marked vehicles with visible company details, although some smaller companies or individual workers may not
  • Unfamiliar individuals loitering around access points, depot entrances or locations where at-risk items are located
  • Consider the threat of internal crime – suspicious behaviour by employees or contractors.
  • Check perimeter fencing for indicators of criminal reconnaissance such as markers tied to fencing
  • Check boundaries to look for gaps or damage which may be a sign of illegal access
  • Work taking place on construction or building sites outside of normal working hours. The local planning authority will know the hours attached to any planning consent within their area, so make an enquiry
  • Unlocked access gates into a building, construction or storage facility without any clear work taking place should always be investigated.
  • Some criminals may use graffiti-style symbols to mark areas where there is cable, metal or other at-risk items suitable for stealing