ASHLAND – Police reports detail more costly thefts of telephone wire from a communication service — thefts that impacted hundreds of customers recently.
Jason Poole, Windstream Operations Manager for Ashland and Meads, said a theft occurred over the weekend at a communications location on Route 3, past the Kyova Mall.
Poole said three separate cables were stolen, with each cable being approximately 5,000 feet of telephone wiring.
Poole said the theft put a huge remote down. A remote is a major hub that feeds dial tone to certain areas, said Poole.
“It shut down a few hundred customers,” said Poole. The replacement wiring can take up to three days to replace.
“The thefts are occurring on an almost weekly basis,” said Poole.
Windstream also had $17,500 worth of telephone wire allegedly stolen from a location on Shannon Drive recently, according to police reports. Reports indicate that over 600 feet of telephone wiring was allegedly stolen.
“The issue we're having now is because of the amount already stolen, we're having to source out-of-state and country to even find the right kind of cable,” Poole said.
Poole said the company is concerned about the impact on customers.
“We're having issues with people being able to dial 911 and different security issues,” Poole said.
Windstream spokesperson Scott Morris said Windstream is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the thieves stealing copper phone cables in the Ashland, Greenup and Grayson areas.
The reward was put up after a copper theft caused a major outage in May, taking down emergency services in Meads along U.S. 60.
The outage followed a similar one in April. In this instance Ashland, Greenup, and Grayson lost services due to copper theft of communication lines.
“There has been quite a rash of copper thefts in Ashland, Greenup and Carter areas since Jan. 1 — approximately 20 thefts during that time,” Morris said.
“Since Jan. 1, there have been almost 20 incidents in which thieves have cut and stolen active copper telephone lines in Ashland, Greenup and Grayson,” said Phillip McAbee, president of Windstream operations in Kentucky. “These crimes harm the communities we serve because they can result in outages that prevent our customers from making phone calls, including to 911. We’re asking anyone in the community who might have seen or heard something suspicious to step up and help us stop these thieves.”
“We’re asking the community to be observant, particularly at night,” Morris said. “If you see suspicious activity, please report it to 911.”
Poole said customers are urged to contact local police if they see individuals working on the lines in those areas after hours.
“If you see that work going on after dark, call 911, let the police investigate,” Poole said.