Eircom lost 60,000m (60kms) of copper cable worth at over €240,000 to metal thieves in 2013 while a further €17,000 worth of copper wiring has been stolen so far this year.
While not the only target of gangs, Eircom has urged anyone with information about such incidents to report them to gardaí.
While unscrupulous thieves will steal most metals in the hope of making easy cash, copper, lead and aluminium have been particular targets.
An Eircom spokeswoman said: “Metal theft continues to be an issue for us. We had over 200 incidents in 2013 involving over 60,000 meters of cable. These thefts do result in loss of service to customers but we always work hard to restore service as quickly as possible.”
“We would strongly urge anyone who has an information relating to metal theft to contact their local garda station. There are a number of cases pending against the culprits,” she added.
The total value of copper stolen from Eircom in 2013 was around €240,000 while so far this year, over €17,000 has been taken.
A “Metal Theft Forum” was established in 2011 by An Garda Síochána involving various groups of stakeholders affected directly by this type of crime including communications, utility, transport, recyclers, agricultural sector and Government Departments. The objective of the Forum was to gather information and enable stakeholders to become proactive in developing a multi-agency solution to this crime.
Then in February 2013, An Garda Síochána launched a Metal Theft Prevention Plan while last May, Crimestoppers commenced a metal theft awareness campaign.
According to An Garda: “Metal Theft’ crime analysis shows the most commonly stolen metals are copper, aluminium, brass and bronze. These are valuable assets and expensive to replace and to repair associated damage. The approximate market value of one tonne of aluminium is estimated at €1,750, making metal theft lucrative for criminals and costly for victims.”
“Metal thieves target churches, vacant houses, public buildings, telecommunication cables and electricity substations. Many of these thefts are putting communities in danger,” a spokesman said.
Around 2,500 metal theft incidents are reported to gardaí every year with Iarnród Éireann, the National Roads Authority, churches, pubs and other buildings among the targets hit.
Reported thefts include beer kegs, copper wires, road signs, jewellery, lead roofs, goal posts and manhole covers. There have also been a number of high profile thefts of precious objects including sculptures and religious relics.
The company also confirmed that over 500m of cable was stolen from roadside poles in the Tubber area last year.