LIVERMORE (CBS SF) – AT&T is offering a $250,000 reward for the capture and conviction of vandals who have been cutting buried fiber optic lines in the Bay Area, disrupting phone, television and Internet service for numerous residents.
The most recent outage happened at about 10:30 p.m. Monday night when fiber optic lines were cut in two manholes on Altamont Pass Road near Livermore, AT&T and Alameda County officials said.
Altamont Pass was closed at Carroll Road and at Greenville Road while crews made emergency repair work on the lines. AT&T spokesman Matthew Cross said repairs were completed by 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Monday’s was the latest in an inexplicable rash of vandalism in the area. Cross said that while there is resale value in stealing buried copper lines, there is no profit in cutting fiber optic lines.
“That’s just pure vandalism,” he said.
Furthermore, the buried cables are difficult to access and require a significant effort to cut. AT&T has not had similar ongoing problems with vandalism in other regions of the country, Cross said.
The FBI has taken an interest in the case, asking for help in June with 10 incidents over the prior year in the East and South Bay.
The incidents dated from July 6, 2014, when vandals cut lines in Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek and San Jose. Then in February of this year, cables were cut again in Fremont and in June they were cut in Fremont and Walnut Creek.
While the motive and whether the incidents are connected remains unclear, FBI officials said in June that the ongoing vandalism does not appear to be related to the sabotage of the PG&E Metcalf substation in San Jose on April 16, 2013.
In addition to fiber optic lines being cut there, saboteurs used a high-powered rifle to shoot out transformers. Cutting the fiber optic lines caused widespread phone outages, including for some emergency dispatch services.
AT&T has asked anyone with information to contact law enforcement or AT&T Asset Protection at 1-800-807-4205. The FBI has asked anyone with information to contact the San Francisco FBI field office at (415) 553-7400 or to leave a tip at tips.fbi.gov.
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