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Copper Wire Thieves Knockout Communications

In Madera, criminals ripped out AT&T's wiring which caused homeowners and businesses to lose voice and data connections.
Copper wire thieves have once again cost Californians time and money.

AT&T crews were out for a second straight night Tuesday working along Highway 99 to repair phone and data lines which were damaged over the weekend.  The project was situated between Avenues 16 and 17.

Repairmen began their work around 6:30 p.m. when it was still extremely hot outside.  They had to climb down a deep hole to fix the damage criminals caused when they crawled into another nearby manhole and stripped out copper wire.

“It costs the taxpayers a lot of money to have to come back and replenish that wiring,” said Dave Paris, C.H.P. Commander.

C.H.P. Commander, Dave Paris, says the vandals put the public in harms way because they knocked out network capabilities at the Madera field office for two days.

“Everything comes in through hardwires, so people are going to have a first responder if something should occur that some is in help or is in danger,” said Commander Paris.

“It’s just all stress,” said Barick McKesson of Hampton Inn & Suites.

The Hampton Inn & Suites off Avenue 17 is still feeling the effects.  Its whole computer booking system is fouled up.

“A lot of credit cards are declining.  We’re turning away a lot of guests who are walking in,” said McKesson.

Caltrans crews were called in to close down one lane of northbound traffic in order to keep everyone safe.  Jose Camarena calls it a waste of his department’s resources.

“Money that could be used to fix potholes, fix guard railing and all the other repairs we have to make don’t get done because we have to do projects like these,” said Jose Camarena of Caltrans.

Because police are often tied up on service calls, they can’t always spot potential wire thieves.  So Commander Paris is asking the public to help catch them.

“When they see a car on the side of the road or people crawling around in bushes, maybe they should give us a call because that might be our copper wire theft right there,” said Commander Paris.

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