Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

Copper theft cuts off phone lines

Hundreds of homes and businesses in Kent have had their phones and internet access cut off after thieves stole copper phone lines.

Customers in Eastry, Upnor and the Medway City Estate in Rochester have all been hit since Monday.

Thieves steal the underground cables - which the phone lines run through - to sell for scrap metal.

The telephone company, BT, said 900 customers had been affected, with some still waiting to be reconnected.

'New measures'

Jimmy James, who runs a car accessories firm in Rochester, said he had lost several thousands of pounds as a result of the theft.

He said: "We can't use the internet, we can't take credit cards. We weren't able to put postage on because that's all electronic. We can't use our electronic cataloguing.

"Basically, we've probably lost about £5,000 or £6,000 over the last couple of days."

Emma Littlejohn, of BT, said there had been a rise in the offence across the UK.

"We are doing everything we can, and rolling out new measures all the time, to try and combat this problem," she said.

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