NEW YORK — Thousands of Verizon customers have been cut off from critical services over the past few days as criminals have damaged or destroyed critical network facilities. There have been at least 24 suspected incidents of sabotage over the past week in five states in which services were cut off for thousands of residential and business customers, including a local police and fire department in New Jersey.
“We will find out who’s behind these highly dangerous criminal acts and we will pursue criminal charges,” said Michael Mason, Verizon’s chief security officer. “These reckless perpetrators are risking the lives of countless Americans by cutting access to key lines of communications, especially to local police, fire and rescue personnel. If someone has an emergency and needs to contact local authorities, these malicious actions could prevent that from happening.”
Among the incidents:
- Sliced fiber optic cabling at a network facility box in New Jersey that cut services to customers and local emergency personnel, including police and fire departments.
- Sabotage in Massachusetts in which phone services were cut off for customers for 16 hours.
- Cut fiber optic and copper cables in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York that disabled voice communications and internet connectivity.
“These perpetrators are putting lives at risk and these dangerous acts need to stop,” said Mason, a former top official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “It’s a violation of federal law to damage critical communications facilities. We have dispatched additional Verizon security teams in all states where this illegal activity is taking place. We’re also working with law enforcement to ensure our networks and facilities are secure so that our customers can connect where and when they need to.”
These malicious actions take place as Verizon is experiencing a strike involving about 36,000 employees, primarily in its wireline business, in nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States plus Washington, D.C. Verizon Wireless operations have had very minimal impact from the strike.
Verizon is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals who intentionally damage Verizon cables or facilities. Verizon urges anyone who witnesses sabotage of Verizon property or any misconduct or suspicious activity to call 911 immediately, and then contact the Verizon Security Control Center at 1-800-997-3287.