1,500 feet of phone line stolen; reward OK’d
AT&T officials announced Friday they are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the thieves who stole 1,500 feet of copper phone cable, interrupting service to hundreds of Nevada county residents.
“Whenever these issues come up we take them very seriously,” said AT&T spokeswoman Vanessa Smith said Friday. “We appreciate the public’s assistance with this.”
Phone service to hundreds of residents east of Highway 20, including the Town of Washington, was interrupted Wednesday night when thieves reportedly cut and stole 1,500 feet of copper cable near an access road to a hiking trail near the Five Mile House on Highway 20.
Smith said phone service was completely restored to hundreds of affected residents by 4 p.m. Friday.
The phones at the Washington Hotel on Washington Road were up and running Friday morning after a day without service, said the man who answered the hotel’s phone Friday.
“Residents in Washington were able to reach AT&T to report the loss in service,” said Nevada County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Hughes Friday.
An AT&T crew repaired most of the damaged and stolen lines Thursday night.
The AT&T employee who reported the crime to sheriff’s dispatchers said several areas had been cut, and heavy copper wiring was taken.
“The entire band of copper wiring is encased in one large cover,” Hughes said. “They sliced it and left the cover.”
He said the thieves most likely would attempt to sell the 1,500 feet of copper they took.
“It’s a terrible way to make money,” he said.
Smith said some salvage yards would pay for the kind of copper cable taken Wednesday.
Hughes said no one has been arrested in connection with the theft, and there are currently no suspects.
The crime may be investigated by the FBI, Smith said, because any attack on communications networks is considered a federal offense, punishable with up to 20 years in federal prison.
“Right now we intend to cooperate with local authorities to ensure the capture of these people,” she said. “If that comes to fruition, the FBI may later get involved.”
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the AT&T security line at (925) 543-8000. The deadline to report for the purposes of receiving the reward is Aug. 1. The $5,000 may only be claimed by one person, Smith said.
To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@the union.com or call 477-4236.
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