Operators pull installation in-house, begin vetting techs amid a wave of contractor crime

Does the pay-TV industry have a problem with criminal behavior by third-party installation techs?

Do a Google search with the basic term "pay-TV installer," and you'll get a veritable rap sheet of recent crime reports by pay-TV customers involving installation contractors.

A Portland, Ore., woman said a Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) installation contractor bilked her out of $170 in July. A woman in Coweta County, Ga., said a DirecTV (NYSE: T) tech contractor stole her jewelry

On a far more serious note, another DirecTV contractor is accused of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl during an installation project in July in Paterson, N.J. Also, last year, a Wisconsin woman filed suit, claiming a Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) installer sexually assaulted her

These are just a few of the more recent examples -- further back, FierceCable has reported on installers stealing things like English Bulldog puppies and illegally selling cable and Internet connections. 

Of course, contractors in other residential-home effacing businesses -- plumbers, say -- generate these kinds of salacious headlines, too. We combed the Bureau of Justice Statistics database and could find no data suggesting that pay-TV operators generate more criminal activity -- or less -- on average per visit to residential homes.

Responding to FierceInstaller's inquiry about the DirecTV contractors, the satellite company said, "The safety of our customers is of the utmost importance, which is why we require all of our contractors to show proof their techs have passed background and chemical screening tests. Consistent with applicable laws, DirecTV installers must go through and pass a drug screening, a SSN trace, DMV record review, nationwide criminal check and a county-by-county trace."

Put on the spot, a Charter rep said he wasn't aware of any statistics his company has gathered on the matter. But he did note that, in an effort to improve its overall service acumen, Charter is moving to use less contractors and more company employees while deploying services to residential and commercial customers. 

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