A gang of copper thieves who “colluded” with crooked BT employees to steal a quarter of a million pounds worth of underground cables have been jailed for a total of 32 and a half years in Great Britain, according to Daily Mail.

The thieves stole a telecoms van, including overalls so they could pose as BT workers, and searched London for redundant cabling that could be pulled up, stripped down and sold, the article says. The gang caused a £279,635 loss to BT in terms of stolen property and damage. The cables were seized at a scrap yard in Dagenham, Essex.

The thieves posed as roadside workmen, wearing high visibility vests and setting up cordons and cones while they carried out the thefts over a six-month period, between April and early December 2012. The thieves received crucial tip-offs from a BT employee that enabled them to successfully target specific sites.

They stole between one and three tons of BT cable every theft, with each ton worth a few thousand pounds, the Daily Mail article reports.

On December 13, 2012, law enforcement stormed a scrap yard following a six-month long intelligence-specialist operation designed to catch the key players in the theft ring red-handed as they followed their regular routine of exchanging stolen cable for thousands of pounds in cash.