(SEYMOUR) - Frontier Communications customers throughout Southern Indiana are experiencing telephone and Internet service interruptions due to repeat vandalism and theft of the company's copper telecommunications cable.
The repeated thefts pose an immediate threat to public safety since 911 emergency services are impacted and there is loss of dial tone and Internet service.
Eleven incidents have occurred since August of 2012, with the most recent Monday morning. This latest incident involved the theft of fiber optic cables near Highway 56 West and Highway 39 near Scottsburg. As a result, more than 200 Frontier customers in the Little York and Gibson Township areas have been impacted.
Damage and theft of Frontier's facilities affects communications access in an emergency and disrupts community phone and broadband connections. As a result, public safety is jeopardized, especially if customers are unable to make emergency calls to 911.
Frontier is seeking help from the public in stopping these repeated threats to public safety. If anyone has seen any suspicious behavior or vehicles in the Scottsburg area that might be connected with these events, please call the Company's Security Hotline, 1-800-590-6605. This toll-free line is staffed around the clock by Frontier's Security personnel. All calls will be handled in a confidential manner. Anonymous information will also be accepted. If you see an active case of vandalism or theft, please call 911 immediately to report the incident, and then call Frontier Security.
"This is the fifth time this year that Frontier telephone cable has been stolen, resulting in loss of phone and Internet service to hundreds of customers," said Marc Evans, Frontier's Regional General Manager for Southern Indiana. "Frontier needs the public's help to keep an eye out for suspicious activities around utility poles, our pedestals and boxes, remote terminals and central offices in order to ensure that our communications services remain intact. Frontier technicians are always in marked vehicles and have Frontier red picture ID badges. If you see or have seen any suspicious vehicles or persons around our equipment who don't fit t description, please call 911 and the toll-free hotline."
Evans added: "Our concern is not only leaving the public unprotected with no communications service, including access to 9-1-1, but the vandals don't seem to understand that they are putting their own lives in danger by going near our telephone wires. There have been a few vandals who have lost their lives from electrocution while trying to take down telephone lines."
In many cases, authorities believe that the perpetrators of this type of crime are taking these desperate measures to feed a drug habit. Frontier and others in the industry believe that copper theft presents a national security issue, as damage to the telecommunications network could put the public at significant risk during the time of an emergency. The Department of Homeland Security considers telecommunications a critical part of our nation's infrastructure.
"Frontier has zero tolerance for vandalism or sabotage against our network, and we are aggressive about finding those who disrupt service and endanger the public," said Mike Eckroth, Frontier's Central Region Corporate Security Manager. "We work closely with law enforcement and the courts to ensure that anyone who interferes with the delivery of services to our customers is found and charged to the fullest extent of the law. Our all-out effort has resulted in numerous arrests over the last two years. Frontier will always seek restitution from those convicted for the full cost of the damage caused."
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