Cable theft leaves French village cut off from internet and phone

Thieves target the valuable copper inside the wire. Such thefts are on the rise

The copper inside internet and phone connection wires can be sold for €8,000 per tonne

A French village has been almost completely cut off from internet and phone lines after the theft of a copper telephone wire - in a crime that is becoming increasingly common nationwide.

Almost all residents in Famars - a village on the outskirts of Valenciennes (Nord, Hauts-de-France) - have been left without internet or landline telephones when the main 800-metre copper cable serving the area was stolen.

The copper in internet and phone lines is now worth around €8,000 per tonne when sold on the black market, making it increasingly popular with thieves and organised gangs.

The cost of the wire - and increased numbers of thefts nationwide - has stalled repair attempts. At the time of writing, despite making several complaints to the phone company, the mayor still has no solution.

Almost 60% of residents are still without connection nearly a month later, and the village cafe no longer has working games machines because of the outage. Some elderly people have become particularly isolated as a result of losing their phone and internet.

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1,200 km of wire stolen nationwide

Last year, operator Orange reported that more than 1,200 km of cable had been stolen across France. This has led to long repair delays.

Law enforcement units are increasingly trying to fight this growing crime. In January, police dismantled an organised network in Lot (Occitanie).

As soon as the wires are stolen, they are typically cut up and resold, often abroad. In France, the crime is punished by up to three years' imprisonment, and a fine of up to €45,000.