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5G Conspiracy Theorists Setting Booby Traps For Telecoms Engineers

5G Conspiracy Theorists Setting Booby Traps For Telecoms Engineers

A new report claims telecoms engineers in the UK have been on the receiving end of booby traps placed for them by 5G conspiracy theorists who believe that the technology is spreading coronavirus.

According to The Verge, since late March, telecoms engineers have suffered more than 200 incidents of abuse, many of which have been violent, with conspiracy theorists leaving razor blades and needles behind posters on phone masts in order to harm engineers while they work on maintaining the country's broadband network.

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According to industry group Mobile UK, there have also been 90 arson attacks on cell phone towers since March 30, as well as 200 counts of abuse against telecoms engineers, by those who believe the conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories relating to the risks of 5G have been widely denounced. Credit: PA
Conspiracy theories relating to the risks of 5G have been widely denounced. Credit: PA

The report focuses on a London-based engineer by the name of Naveed Qureshi, who explains how since lockdown began at end of March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the risks he faces in simply carrying out his job have increased dramatically.

Engineers have not just been verbally abused by members of the public, but their vans have been kicked and punched by irate members of the public. One engineer even had to self-isolate after he was spat at by someone and then developed symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

Ironically, Qureshi wasn't even working on 5G, and never has. His employer is Openreach, who don't directly maintain mobile networks. Rather, they tend to repair home internet and telephone lines.

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On Easter weekend in particular, 20 phone masts in the UK were the targets of suspected arson attacks. And while those attacks were blamed on the 5G conspiracy, operators say the majority of the infrastructure damaged was providing 3G and 4G coverage.

Vodafone UK, one of the country's biggest telecoms companies, said that one of the masts attacked was actually providing mobile connectivity to a temporary hospital built for Covid-19 patients.

"It's heart-rending enough that families cannot be there at the bedside of loved ones who are critically ill," Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery wrote on LinkedIn. "It's even more upsetting that even the small solace of a phone or video call may now be denied them because of the selfish actions of a few deluded conspiracy theorists."

5G masts have been targets of suspected arson attacks across the UK. Credit: SnapperSK
5G masts have been targets of suspected arson attacks across the UK. Credit: SnapperSK

There was even a now-deleted Facebook page that shared maps of potential targets. And while the attacks have been rife in the UK, there have also been incidents report in the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus and Sweden.

"They just want to blame someone," says Qureshi about the conspiracy theorists who continue to spread misinformation about 5G's link to the pandemic.

"They see these deaths on the news, every day there's big spikes, a thousand deaths. Possibly their loved ones could have been one of those stats. And so I can understand that. But to point the finger at just anyone... Who'll be the next target?"

Topics: UK News, Technology

Mischa Pearlmen

Mischa is a freelance journalist usually based in either New York or London. He has written for Kerrang!, Record Collector, NME, the New York Observer and FLOOD magazine, among others. Contact him at [email protected]