Verizon strikes back at copper thieves in Pittsburgh with $50,000 reward

Verizon (NYSE: VZ) continues to battle a raft of copper wiring theft in Pittsburgh's North Side neighborhood. The telco is offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of who is responsible.

In recent years, the telco has reported about 20 incidents in Pittsburgh alone. Over the last two months it had three or four cases of theft, with the most recent on Nov. 11 on Royal Street.

"These spates of thefts have been in the Pittsburgh area recently, but we've seen them throughout Verizon's footprint from Pennsylvania all the way through California," said Lee Gierczynski, spokesperson for Verizon, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "The biggest concern Verizon has is the impact these incidents have on public safety because they cause unnecessary phone outages for potentially hundreds or thousands of customers."

Gierczynski said that these incidents are "unique because they're right in the city limits so it's an urban area."

Over 2,000 feet of copper cable have been stolen. Although the thefts did not cause problems for a large amount of customers, they collectively caused $400,000 worth of damage to its network.

The telco said the majority of the incidents took place on Gershon, Nublock and Royal streets.

Although he could not elaborate, Gierczynski said they have taken other security measures to prevent new thefts and are working with state and local law enforcement to find the perpetrators.

"We have taken steps with law enforcement to minimize the chances of this happening again," Gierczynski said. "There are different tactics we're taking, but obviously we are not detailing them."

The North side of Pittsburgh is just one area where the telco is seeing copper theft. In April, the telco offered $50,000 for information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of anyone who has stolen copper cable in Lawrence and Washington Counties.

Copper theft has been an ongoing problem for incumbent telcos. Besides Verizon, AT&T (NYSE: T), FairPoint (Nasdaq: FRP), Frontier (Nasdaq: FTR) and Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN) have been waging wars on copper theft.

State lawmakers are assisting in the copper theft fight. Five states--West Virginia, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Washington--have developed laws to help curb copper theft.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
West Virginia copper theft law seems to be working--for some
AT&T strikes back against copper theft in Phoenix with $5K reward offer
FairPoint fights copper theft in its New England territory
Windstream steps up copper theft battle in Oklahoma with $25K reward

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