Thieves have stolen 500 metres of Openreach's copper cable in Cambridgeshire, leaving thousands of people without broadband or a working telephone.
This is the second time the area has been targeted in a fortnight by what appears to be an organised criminal gang. According to Cambridge News, cables were vandalised towards the end of last month affecting more than 3,000 residents.
The stolen cables, which were thought to be worth around £10,000, were later found dumped near Cottenham with the copper stripped from them.
An Openreach spokesman said: "Our network has been damaged again in Cambridgeshire, which is really disappointing. Around 500 metres of our underground cable has been taken and we understand how frustrating this must be for people living there who are now without a telephone and broadband service.
"Our engineers are already working on the repair and we'll get this done as quickly as possible. We're working closely with Crimestoppers and ask people to be extra vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police."
There is a huge black market for copper cable, costing the economy an estimated £1bn per year.
It also poses a big problem for the railways: British Transport Police reported an 85 per cent increase in the crime last year, when a Network Rail worker was arrested for stealing £10,000 worth of cable from a depot.
Openreach is estimated to have 75 million miles (121 million kilometres) of copper cable. The broadband provider pegs its combined copper and fibre network to be 173 million km long – enough to go round the world 4,316 times.
BT is working with the charity Crimestoppers, the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police and Network Rail to tackle the problem. It is also dangling a cash reward of up to £1,000 for any information that leads to a prosecution. ®