WISE — Theft of telephone cable puts people’s lives at risk, Verizon has warned.
On Wednesday the Times-News reported recent thefts of telephone lines in the Flat Gap and South Fork areas of Wise County, a rural area north of Pound. Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said about 1,000 feet or so of copper telephone cable was cut from utility poles on two occasions last week, leaving a combined 400 customers in the isolated areas without landline phone service. Oakes said cell phone service in those and other areas of the county can be spotty at best.
Verizon reports thieves have been responsible for four incidents over the past 18 days involving theft of copper communications cables in Verizon’s telecommunications network, disrupting service to nearly 250 customers in the Pound area.
“These thefts needlessly put people’s lives in danger and cost thousands of dollars to repair,” said Marlon Gunter, Verizon’s area customer operations manager for Southwest Virginia.
“When phone lines are cut, citizens lose an important avenue for calling 911 and other emergency services which may result in injury or worse due to delayed response.”
Including the most recent incidents, Verizon has incurred nine cases of copper line theft in Wise County this year.
“We are working closely with law enforcement officials to find and fully prosecute those responsible for these recent criminal acts,” Gunter said.
Verizon urges anyone with information about specific incidents to contact Verizon’s Security Control Center at 1-800-997-3287. Anyone witnessing any such acts in progress should call 911 or the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at (276) 328-3566.