In the past, when the price of scrap metal climbed, thieves stole everything from manhole covers to train rails to sculptures. This time, thieves in California are cutting AT&T’s phone wire right off the poles with such abandon that AT&T has issued a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
“Stopping copper cable theft has always been a priority, but now AT&T is stepping up its efforts,” said Bill Chubb, AT&T vice president of core installation and maintenance. “We’re hoping a reward of up to $10,000 will motivate anyone with information to come forward. We intend to cooperate with law enforcement to make sure those responsible are apprehended and prosecuted.”
According to AT&T, California Assemblyman Tom Berryhill (R – AD 25) and Sen. Ron Calderon (D – SD 30) have introduced legislation to tighten rules regarding the sale of and payment for scrap metal. AB 844 and SB 691 should be considered on the floor of the legislature in the coming weeks.
“The disruption of telephone service and the ability to access emergency services poses a threat wherever you live,” said Sen. Calderon. “AT&T’s statewide effort, and Assemblyman Berryhill’s and my pending legislation, should give law enforcement throughout the state additional support to tackle this problem.”
Just last month, the company related, an integrated law enforcement task force in San Diego led by the Sheriff’s Department arrested four people at several scrap recycling businesses. The suspects face criminal prosecution and civil cases for “violating the law by knowingly receiving stolen property, or by failing to follow the requirements of the law of obtaining necessary documentation from those selling copper wire.”
To report information on copper cable theft incidents in California and possibly qualify for the reward, people should call AT&T Security at 1-800-807-4205. The reward is for information that leads to the arrest and successful prosecution of those responsible for stealing copper cable from AT&T. AT&T employees are not eligible for the reward.
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