VILLAGERS have been left without their phone lines after thieves severed underground cabling for the second time in a month.
Up to 1,200 homes in North Luffenham and Edith Weston lost phone lines after thieves cut the copper cabling in Ketton Road, North Luffenham, on Sunday night.
Police were alerted to the attempted theft at 1.10am and residents heard the police helicopter circling in the area in the early hours of the morning.
The cabling had been cut in two places, 500m apart, and it is believed the thieves would have returned to pick it up.
The same spot was hit on Wednesday, July 12, and left the same number of customers without their phone lines for three days.
Many businesses in the villages were affected because their bank card machines would not work, although all remained open.
Michelle Latto, owner and postmistress of Edith Weston Village Shop, was concerned about the impact, particularly on tourists staying in the village ahead of this weekend’s Bird Fair at Rutland Water.
She said: “It has been very disruptive to the business, particularly the post office because the card machine is not working and we can not send items by special delivery because they have to be registered online.
“Also we have had holidaymakers coming in wanting to pay for things like gas bottles and alcohol on a card and they have been inconvenienced but people have been quite good about it.”
The Fox and Hounds pub in Pinfold Lane, North Luffenham, lost about £200 in takings when the phone lines were down a month ago.
Landlord Martin Ashton has brought forward a planned redecoration of the pub restaurant while the business is struggling.
He said: “I can’t believe it has happened again because it is such a huge inconvenience.”
Italian restaurant L’Oliveto Uno, which is on the Edith Weston shore of Rutland Water, has lost customers, who are unable to pay because the card machines aren’t working.
But Giant Store Rutland, a branch of Rutland Cycling, and Rutland Water Fishing Lodge, are both using manual bank card machines.
Manager at Giant Store Rutland Paul Rymer said: “We don’t know how many potential customers we are losing because they can’t phone in.
“But customers to the store haven’t been affected, which is good news.”
Retail assistant at Rutland Water Fishing Lodge Robbie Winram said: “It has been a problem for us but we are getting on with things as best we can.
“We are just keeping our fingers crossed that the phone lines are back on soon.”
A police spokesman said two men had been arrested in connection with the attempted theft but were released without charge.
A spokesman for BT apologised for the inconvenience and said BT was constantly reviewing its security.
She said engineers had been working around the clock to fix the problem since it was reported and that all customers were expected to be back online today. Temporary traffic lights should be removed when repair work is completed today.