AT&T fights copper theft in Atlanta with $3,000 reward

AT&T (NYSE: T) may be continually updating its network to fiber, but its copper-based last mile continues to be a victim of thieves that want to make quick buck.

After seeing more than 200 copper thefts take place throughout all of its operating territories, the telco is fighting back with a $3,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone that's suspected of stealing copper wire from its telephone poles.

In Georgia's Fulton County, Emily Edmonds, an AT&T spokeswoman, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there have been 14 incidents of copper theft in the city of Fairburn this year, with six taking place this month. Likewise, there were eight incidents of copper theft in nearby Palmetto.

Although Edmonds would not reveal how much the copper theft, she emphasized that "our biggest concern is when these copper wires are cut, obviously the phones are down and emergency services can't be reached."

In AT&T's Atlanta metro area alone, there have been 32 incidents of copper thefts this year, but the majority of them have taken place in Fulton County.

One way that service providers like AT&T can fight back is to leverage new innovations from wire and cable vendors like Southwire, which has a laser-etched wire that contains a special code that can help police and prosecutors find its original source.

This problem is not only a U.S.-based phenomenon, however, as UK-based incumbent telco BT (NYSE: BT) continues to fight copper theft.

BT  has placed "SmartWater bombs" on its copper infrastructure that will spray a special liquid on the copper and the thief that carries a DNA fingerprint that not only links the thief to the crime scene, but leaves stains on the thief can be detected by police carrying ultraviolet light detectors.

For more:
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has this article

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BT strikes back at copper theft
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