BT Press Releases

DC12-092                                                             March 26, 2012

BT unleashes RABIT technology to catch cable thieves

Cable thieves forced to flee empty handed
Photos: imagelibrary.btplc.com

BT today launched a new burglar alarm weapon in the fight against cable thieves. The technology, called RABIT, can act within minutes and detect when a cable has been cut or damaged, accurately pin-pointing an incident to a road or street.

RABIT alerts BT’s Security Control Centre, and Police response teams, when cable thieves attack the company’s UK telephone and broadband network. A trial of the technology has already forced cable thieves to flee the scene of the crime, in Essex, empty handed.

RABIT (Rapid Assessment Bt Incident Tracker) was trialled in December 2011. The technology constantly monitors the BT network and detects when communication has been disconnected.
Luke Beeson, general manager, BT Security, said: “BT’s new burglar alarm on the network will make thieves think again. We are now able to inform the Police of the exact location of malicious network attacks and, if trials are anything to go by, it won’t be long before they start catching the thieves in the act.”

Paul Crowther, Deputy Chief Constable of the British Transport Police and metal theft lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “In my view this technology will significantly improve Police response times to cable theft incidents and will act as a major deterrent to criminals engaged in this activity. More importantly, communities and businesses should see a sharp reduction in the disruption caused by this type of theft. This is an early example of how Government funding has helped the National Police Metal Theft task Force, assist BT in the battle against cable theft.”

The numbers of arrests related to BT cable theft are continuing to rise, with the average number of arrests per month up nearly eight per cent on last year. In the last 11 months the number of arrests has reached more than 480, already more than the 446 arrests in 2010. It is estimated that around 80 per cent of BT’s cable theft is carried out by organised crime gangs. BT recovered 240 tonnes of stolen metal in the past eleven months, as a result of visits to scrap metal dealers and working with Police forces on targeted operations and national metal theft days of action.

RABIT is one of a number of measures used by BT Security to help battle copper theft, which cost BT and its customers millions of pounds each year.

Other security measures deployed by BT include using SmartWater, an invisible paint that tags thieves and an Openreach partnership with Crimestoppers. BT also has a dedicated Metal Theft Task Force, which focuses its resources on the enhancement of network security. The Task Force gathers and analyses intelligence from cable theft incidents and help disrupt disposal routes for stolen metal.

Notes to Editors
The RABIT alarm technology was developed by BT.
Government funding: In November 2011 the Government announced that £5 million would be put aside to help establish a dedicated metal theft taskforce to enhance law enforcement activity in this area.