Telephone Service, Public Safety at Risk Due to Theft of Verizon’s Copper Cable Facilities in Southwest Virginia

Verizon is warning about the latest spate of thefts of copper telephone cable that has disrupted service and created risks to public safety for nearly 300 customers in Dickenson, Russell and Wise counties.

Verizon will join other communications, power and coal companies, as well as the commonwealth's attorneys, local law enforcement and the Virginia State Police in Abingdon Thursday (Oct.13) to discuss the increase in incidents involving the theft of copper and other precious metals.

In the latest criminal acts, thieves have been responsible for six incidents involving theft of copper telephone cables or vandalism to Verizon's telecommunications network between Friday (Oct. 7) and Monday (Oct. 10).  These incidents disrupted service twice in the Dante area of Russell County; in Clintwood in Dickenson County; and Coeburn, Pound and St. Paul in Wise County.

"These criminal acts can threaten people's safety and cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair," said Marlon Gunter, Verizon's area customer operations manager for southwest Virginia.  "When phone lines are cut, citizens lose their ability to call 911 and other emergency services - particularly in areas where reliable wireless service is not available.  This loss of emergency communications can also result in injury or worse due to delayed response."

With these latest incidents, copper thieves have stolen or vandalized Verizon facilities 33 times over the past year in southwest Virginia, predominantly in Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell and Wise counties.  During that time, the Dickenson County sheriff arrested three people on theft charges for several incidents in that county.

"We continue to work closely with law enforcement officials to find and fully prosecute those responsible for the most recent criminal acts," said Gunter. 

Verizon urges anyone with information about specific incidents to contact Verizon's Security Control Center at 1-800-997-3287.  Those who witness any acts in progress should immediately call their local law enforcement agency.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.