Costly wire thefts threaten safety, service

Telus is asking area residents to immediately call police if they see any suspicious activity around their telephone poles – after a incidence of wire theft of shut down Telus phone, internet and banking services throughout the Hope region.

  • Feb. 8, 2011 8:00 a.m.

Telus crews spent Monday under the Hope Fraser Bridge hand building replacement cables damaged by a wire thief. The thief would have climbed the pole at approximately 6 a.m.

Telus is asking area residents to immediately call police if they see any suspicious activity around their telephone poles – after a incidence of wire theft of shut down Telus phone, internet and banking services throughout the Hope region.

At 6 a.m., on Monday, February 7, four cables were cut from a conduit under the Hope Fraser Bridge, shutting down approximately 200 voice and internet customers, as well as a cell tower, said Shawn Hall, media relations officer with Telus.

As they are of no value from a metal recyclers, the thief or thieves abandoned the two fiber optic cables and found only 10 feet of copper cable, added Hall. “They might get $5 bucks for it.”

Hall estimates the repair work, which continued into Tuesday, would cost the company $50,000.

“We are doing what we can to put an end to this….

“This is not a victimless crime – these thieves are putting people’s lives at risk by cutting our customer’s access to 911 services.”

Telus and the police are working together to identify a suspect or suspects, however, with copper bringing in $4 per pound from metal recyclers, theft is becoming rampant throughout the region.

Three months ago, the Telus lines between Hope and Yale were hit by a thief an estimated five times over a period of a few weeks – cutting 911, phone and internet service to an 50 customers. The Yale Fire Department’s dispatch system was also disrupted with each occurrence.

To end the rampant theft, the company had to invest $250,000 and bury the one kilometre of phone line deep into the shoulder of the highway, near Camp Squeah.

Theft of wire also regularly shuts down emergency, direction signage, and lighting along our local highways.

“The majority of these thefts have been occurring in or around heavily populated areas within daylight hours. Due to the time of day, police believe there are likely witnesses that have seen suspicious activity which relate to these thefts,” says Corporal Tammy Hollingworth, on behalf of the Hope RCMP.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding suspicious persons or activity around power poles to contact the Hope RCMP at 604-869-7750 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-222-TIPS (8477).

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