Copper Theft Continues to Plague Industry Causing Injuries and Death
STAMFORD, Conn., Nov 18, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) —
The sluggish pace of the nation’s economic recovery, combined with increases in copper prices, has sparked an increase in copper thefts. In response, Frontier Communications Corporation (NYSE:FTR, news, filings) has intensified its efforts to combat vandalism that puts customers and the general public at risk.
Frontier is taking an aggressive approach to stopping copper wire thefts and damage to the company’s network facilities. “Damage to our facilities can affect communications access in an emergency, increase company costs and consumer rates, and disrupt community phone and broadband connections,” said Lynne Monaco, Frontier’s Director of Security. “When network connections are severed by copper thieves, it endangers customers and emergency responders and poses significant risks of personal injury and property damage.”
Frontier personnel are in regular communication with law enforcement at all levels to report leads and follow up on the prosecution of the crimes. In many cases, authorities believe that the perpetrators of this 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.
Injuries and Deaths Resulting from Copper Thefts
Vandalism and copper theft endanger not only the innocent, but also perpetrators and their accomplices. Communications network cables are often located close to electric companies’ facilities, and in many cases are co-located on utility poles. Those who attempt to steal copper wire put themselves precariously close to live electric transmission facilities powerful enough to electrocute quickly and without warning. In West Virginia, four people have been killed to date in 2010 while stealing copper from an electric provider.
Prosecutors Taking Aggressive Stance
In a notable recent case, two suspects in Beckley, West Virginia, were charged with first degree murder after a third person was electrocuted while allegedly stealing copper at a facility. Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller said, “We hope that if the possibility of killing themselves doesn’t deter people from attempting copper theft, then perhaps the knowledge that they can be charged with first degree murder if one of their associates is killed might help dissuade people from committing the crime.”
Consumers Can Help
Frontier customers are encouraged to report any suspicious activity around telecommunications equipment and facilities by calling the company’s toll free security line 800-590-6605. Anyone witnessing a theft in progress should not confront the suspects but should immediately call 911 and then call Frontier. Vehicle and suspect descriptions are very useful. This is a community safety problem, and the cooperation of the public is critical.
Frontier Communications Corporation (NYSE: FTR) offers voice, High-Speed Internet, satellite video, wireless Internet data access, data security solutions, bundled offerings, specialized bundles for small businesses and home offices, and advanced business communications Access Solutions for medium and large businesses in 27 states and with approximately 14,800 employees. More information is available at www.frontier.com and www.frontier.com/ir.
SOURCE: Frontier Communications Corporation
Frontier Communications Corporation Christy Reap, 203-614-4703 christine.reap@FTR.com