There is villainy afoot in the tri-state area and Verizon wants to put a stop to it. Verizon has reported a more than 100% increase in the number of suspected incidents of sabotage that have cut off thousands of Verizon customers from critical wireline services.
Last week, Verizon reported that it was investigating 24 suspected criminal incidents in five states since April 13. As of yesterday, that number has increased to 57 incidents in seven states.
The company is putting up a reward for information, offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals who intentionally damage Verizon equipment. Anyone witnessing sabotage should call 911 and then contact Verizon’s Security department at 1-800-997-3287.
“These are criminal activities, affecting people’s safety and putting lives at risk. We are investigating all reports and pursuing all avenues to assist law enforcement in finding and convicting the perpetrators of these acts,” said Michael Mason, Verizon’s chief security officer.
The incidents – which are rare under normal circumstances – have continued at an accelerated rate since April 13. Most involve the severing of fiber-optic cables – which can serve hundreds or thousands of customers – or severe damage or vandalization to terminal boxes that serve as distribution hubs for wireline communications services to entire buildings or neighborhoods.
For example, on April 15 in Salisbury, Mass., vandals sliced a group of wires inside a terminal that provided 911 emergency services to local residents. Services have since been restored by Verizon managers.
In Delaware, three separate incidents occurred yesterday in Hockessin at fiber hub locations; fiber cables were severed in multiple locations. The same thing happened in New Jersey, where there have been 17 incidents of suspected sabotage since April 13, primarily in the northern part of the state.
Here in New York, the second most impacted state, 15 incidents are under investigation. The same thing is going on in Pennsylvania, where 10 incidents are under investigation, including suspected arson involving a fire-damaged terminal in Drexel Hill.
In Virginia, cables have been severed, or equipment stolen, in eight separate incidents.
In Maryland, fiber cables were ripped from a hub in Brandywine on April 22.
“Initial investigation and evidence show that all these incidents involve the deliberate and willful destruction of critical communications facilities,” said Mason. “We suspect violations of federal law, and Verizon is working with authorities to pursue criminal charges.”
These actions take place as Verizon is experiencing a strike, now in its 15th day, involving about 36,000 employees, primarily in its wireline business in nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states plus Washington, D.C.
The company announced in a statement that it normally experiences “about a half dozen dangerous and reckless acts of destructive vandalism each year.” The company went on to say that Verizon Wireless operations have had very minimal impact from the strike.