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Leading broadband provider BT has launched a new initiative designed to protect its network infrastructure from theft.

For some time, the company has suffered at the hands of criminals, who have been stealing copper broadband and phone cables to sell for scrap.

BT Openreach is now using the SmartWater solution to add a forensic tag to metal thieves and help with their prosecution.

By tackling the problem, which has been exacerbated by a recent rise in the price of copper, the internet service provider hopes to provide a more reliable home broadband service to consumers.

Openreach's Head of Security Bernie Auguste said that any criminal who targets the BT network now risks being "invisibly tagged" with SmartWater, meaning the police can trace them, and any stolen cable or equipment, back to the scene of the crime.

"Cable theft affects not only us as a business, it affects everyone who relies on access to phones and broadband. We're fighting back," he added.

According to BT, a nine per cent rise in copper cable theft was witnessed during 2009.

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