With Connectivity Restored, Police Searching for Bay Area Telecom Vandals

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-04-10

Connectivity was restored April 10 to tens of thousands of land line, cellular and Internet customers of several telecom companies in the San Francisco Bay Area following the vandalism of underground fiber-optic telephone and Internet cable lines at four locations on April 9.

AT&T pledged a $100,000 reward, which was increased to $250,000 later on April 10, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of the felony vandalism. The crime disrupted service to tens of thousands of people in five Northern California counties.

AT&T asked people with information on the crimes to call (408) 947-STOP.

Law enforcement officers had no suspects early on April 10, although it has been speculated by some authorities that the vandalism might be connected with a labor dispute. 

About 110,000 AT&T workers nationwide have considered going on strike, according to TMCnet.com, a news site for the telecommunications industry. Five regional union contracts expired on Sunday, April 5. A sixth that expires a few months later is being negotiated at the same time, the site reported.

The major disagreement between AT&T and the Communications Workers of America has been increased health-care costs.

Portions of the city and county of San Francisco and the counties of San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito, where a number of IT companies are located, were affected by cut telecom lines at two locations in South San Jose. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile land line, cellular and Internet service was down in those areas beginning from about 2 a.m. to 11 p.m. on April 9. 

In San Carlos, about 25 miles north of the south San Jose vandalism site, lines belonging to Sprint and Verizon were disabled at two locations along Old County Road at about 3:30 a.m. PDT, a San Carlos police spokesperson said. Those lines were also restored late in the evening.

Repairmen had to physically fuse hundreds of hairline fiber-optic strands in each of the four locations in order to restore the phone and Internet connectivity.

The Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services said the outage killed cell phones and Internet access and about 52,000 Verizon household land lines in south Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz County for the entire day.

The telecom company announced the reward via the ATTnews Twitter site April 9 and was continuing to post updates on April 10.

Rocket Fuel