Saturday November 17, 2012

READSBORO -- State police say someone stole 300 feet of flexible copper cable valued at $1,700 from a FairPoint Communications facility on Tunnel Street.

According to Vermont State Police Sgt. Thomas McCoy, the theft occurred between Nov. 7 and Nov. 13. The cable was part of an outdoor generator.

FairPoint spokeswoman Sabina Haskell said the site is a relay station and the generator served as a backup should power be cut to the facility. Had the power gone out while the generator was out of service, anyone in the 423 phone extension could have lost the ability to make calls, including emergency calls. She said the generator has since been fixed.

Copper thefts from FairPoint and other utilities are nothing new and have been a problem all across the United States. Haskell said the problem has been level in Vermont and FairPoint’s other areas.

Anyone with information is asked to call Vermont State Police at 802-442-5421. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online to www.vtips.info or by texting the number 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword VTIPS followed by the information.

FairPoint is also offering rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to a conviction in connection with the theft of copper from the company. People can call their local police or Marc Lussier, of FairPoint, at 603-656-8222.

"This is a real and growing public safety concern," said Lussier, senior manager of security for FairPoint, in a statement. "It can cause loss of service for folks who need emergency services and there is the added concern that an untrained person removing cable could be injured."

In July, Fairpoint said copper thefts from the company exceeded $20,000 in Vermont, and thefts have been a problem in Maine and New Hampshire as well.