Homes cut off after cable thieves strike on Keele Road
DOZENS of householders were left without phone or internet connection for several hours after cable thieves targeted their village.
Around 50 residents reported faults on the network after an underground cable in Keele Road, Keele, was damaged in the early hours of yesterday morning.
They say it is the second time their phones have gone dead in the last three weeks.
Sandra Gates, landlady of the Sneyd Arms, Keele, said she was left without connection for four days when the cables were damaged just before Mother's Day.
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She added: "No-one could offer us any explanation.
"It was quite inconvenient because it leaves people without a means of communication for customers and suppliers. This has affected a lot of residents.
"Everyone thinks the thieves must have cut the wires at about 2am because all the phones rang out once.
"I didn't actually notice until I realised a couple of suppliers hadn't called me in the morning as they normally would.
"Obviously when you've got a mobile it's not too much of a problem but lots of the people who live here are quite elderly and rely on their land lines.
"Many of them need the security of being able to call relatives if they get into trouble."
John Howlett, of Holly Mews, was left frustrated when he lost internet connection.
The 31-year-old said: "My wifi went down for a good few hours. It wasn't working all Tuesday night.
"It had come back on by midday but it was quite inconvenient."
BT said engineers were sent out straight away to replace the damaged section of cable after it received around 50 complaints.
It was expected to carry out routine checks today.
A spokesman said: "We suspect an underground cable was damaged by would-be thieves in the Keele Road area.
"Engineers began the painstaking job of reconnecting customers one at a time, and the majority of those affected now have their services restored.
"It is extremely regrettable when we suffers any kind of damage to our network.
"Our priority is to restore services to those affected as quickly as possible, which is what we did in this case."
Police said yesterday's theft had not yet been reported to them but are continuing an appeal for witnesses to the incident on Thursday, February 28 at around 2.30am.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "This type of theft has a massive impact on our day-to-day lives and can lead to failure of phone lines to houses and businesses, the collapse of electrical supply to homes, businesses and even hospitals, breaks in supply of gas and water, delays and cancellations on the railway and even the breakdown of traffic lights.
"Anyone found handling stolen property will be arrested."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Staffordshire Police on 101.