Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Telephone cable theft knocks out 911 service

About 400 residents of Surrey, in western Canada just north of Washington state, went without 911 service for 24 hours in early June after cable thieves climbed poles and cut down about 1200 feet of telephone cable. Cable theft has become a growing international problem over the past few years as copper prices have more than doubled.

The theft knocked out telephone and internet service in the neighborhood. "About 400 customers lost 911 access for about 24 hours," Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said, "putting our customers lives at risk."

The total length of cable they brought down linked three poles. Despite causing about $50,000 damage, the thieves only took about 50 feet of the heavy toonie-thick cable with them. The rest was dumped nearby.

"Maybe they were spooked or scared off the scene," Hall speculated, adding he hopes someone might have seen them and will contact police. The theft was quite brazen, occurring "right on the highway."

Fortunately,the police and fire department did not hear of anyone needing 911 service in that neighborhood at the time. In such circumstances, residents can use their cellphones to contact 911, but they don't provide location information like land lines do. (info from Surrey Now)

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