A whole village has been without a phone service for nearly two weeks after thieves stole more than 500 metres of underground copper cable.

Around 400 homes and businesses in Ardington near Wantage have been affected by the outage, which has caused “distress” and “anxiety” among residents.

Openreach, who manage the line, said they are sorry that “residents were having to bearing the brunt of criminal behaviour.”

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Angela, landlady of The Boar’s Head pub said: “We rely on the phone lines for bookings.

“On August 2 the phones went dead, and we were told it would not be fixed until August 12.

Oxford Mail: The Boar's Head pub in Ardington as seen on Google MapsThe Boar's Head pub in Ardington as seen on Google Maps (Image: Google)

“Now this has been pushed back until August 14.

“People in Ardington cannot ring the doctors or contact their families. Some of the villagers are very distraught.”

Resident Simon Handley said: “My elderly father lives on his own in the village and we are unable to communicate with each other.

“He is vulnerable and likes to know that the phone is there if he needs anything. He is very anxious not having the phone.

“My main concern is that if his doctor or the hospital are trying to contact him, they will think he is not answering.

“I have been unable to contact anyone in the phone company who can let us know exactly what is happening and what the resolution is. It is so frustrating.”

Villager Kevin Legge, aged 52, added: “If I need my sisters or niece, I can’t get hold of them.

“They have bought me a new mobile so that I can ring them, but it doesn’t have a good signal. 

“None of my friends or family can call me or leave a message.”

Ardington residents have been in contact with their local MP David Johnston who described the situation as “unacceptable”.

He said: “I am in close contact with residents and have been communicating with BT about this unacceptable situation.

“I understand that engineers have been on site and a 500 metre section of cable needs to be replaced on the main road, with a further update from BT coming on Monday.

“I will do all I can to help residents.”

Openreach was contacted for comment on the lack of phone and broadband signal in Ardington.

A company spokesman said: “We’re really disappointed that residents in and around Ardington are having to bear the brunt of criminal behaviour and theft from our network. 

“These attacks cause significant damage and unacceptable disruption to the lives of local people and put vulnerable people at risk.

“More than 500 metres of underground cable was taken in this incident, and the damage is impacting phone and broadband service to around 400 local homes and businesses.

“Engineers have been working to restore phone and broadband but the scale nature and scale of the damage is so significant that we’ve had to bring in extra resource.

“We’re doing our best to get the work done quickly and safely but it could be the middle of next week before everything’s back up and running.

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“We’re already using anti-theft technology to help track stolen cable and convict criminals and our Security team is working closely with Thames Valley Police along with organisations like Crimestoppers, the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police and Network Rail, to tackle the problem together.

“We encourage anyone who is still experiencing problems to contact their provider who will advise us. 

“We also urge people to call 101 to report any suspicious activity to the police. 

“Examples of this activity include seeing people lifting manhole lids or unusual activity around our network in fields late at night, particularly if it involves 4x4 vehicles.

“If members of the public do believe a crime is in progress then they should dial 999.”