Copper thieves strike Frontier's West Va. network

Frontier Communications (NYSE: FTR) has become the latest service provider to suffer at the hands of vandals looking to make a quick buck by stealing and selling copper to scrap dealers.

Although it is not clear how many of Frontier's data and phone customers were affected by the copper theft on its West Virginia network, West Va. state police have already arrested three people and have issued four separate arrest warrants in connection to the recent theft.

The three suspects--Mark Shawn Grimmett, Terry Lee Mcquithy and Ethel Gaye Lipscomb--were arrested last Thursday and face multiple felony charges. Each of the suspects could also face federal charges because the vandalism violates Homeland Security, interstate commerce and environmental protection laws.

To combat further copper theft in West Virginia, Frontier has committed more internal resources in both Logan County and throughout the state to identify and detain anyone who tries to vandalize its network facilities. In addition, Frontier said it put "recyclers and scrap dealers who buy and sell copper and wire on notice that they could be subject to arrest and conviction" if they help a copper thief by buying stolen wire.

"Frontier has zero tolerance for vandalism or sabotage against our network, and we are aggressive about finding those who disrupt service and endanger the public," said Lynne Monaco, Frontier's Corporate Director of Security in a statement.

Copper theft has become a well known phenomenon in recent years. Other service providers, including AT&T, CenturyLink and Canadian operator Telus, have reported similar thefts over the past year. Not only has copper theft resulted in network outages, but copper thieves in West Va. and in Nashua, N.H., for example, were electrocuted after trying to steal copper wire from electric utility substations.

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- see the release here

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