Illegal phone repeater equipment blamed for the poor O2 mobile signal in Malmesbury since November has been seized.

The equipment which, ironically, is used to help boost a poor phone signal, was taken from a home on the outskirts of the town, after months of misery for those who rely on their phone.

Use of a mobile phone repeater carries a maximum fine of £5,000 and one-year imprisonment, says Ofcom.

In a statement from the communication regulator on Tuesday, it said: “Ofcom takes the matter of interference extremely seriously.

“We have today traced a case of mobile signal interference in Malmesbury, and removed illegal mobile phone repeaters from a property in the area.

“These devices can cause serious interference problems, meaning that other people in the area get poor or no mobile reception.”

The move could bring an end to two months of frustration for O2 users in Malmesbury, although it is too late for those who have cancelled their contracts, and for businesses.

Julie Exton, of Exton Removals, said: “This has affected us badly. “My husband is self-employed and I help on the phones with the bookings so it has been hard.

“If I need to go out I divert the phone to my mobile so I can carry on with the business, which I haven’t been able to do and we have lost an awful lot of work because of it. It has been so difficult.

“I just don’t know how such a small device can knock out all of O2; it’s just really weird.”

Funeral director James Beesley, of Matthews of Malmesbury, said: “Part of our service is to be available 24\7 to receive calls handling a very emotive, distressing time for families.

“We rely on mobile phones to receive these calls, from general funeral enquiries to getting called out to a nursing home or private residence to convey the deceased back to our chapel of rest.

“Since November we have experienced calls from those exasperated by the terrible reception we have all experienced on the O2 network.”

Lauren Evan, who runs The Iron Works and Gate Company, said: “When making or receiving calls you would not be able to hear the person at the other end, at most you would hear the odd broken sentence.”

John Curnock, of JC Plumbing, said: “Over the past three months my phone signal has been terrible; not only is it costing me money through loss of work, but I also still have to pay my bill each month for a service that is totally unacceptable.”