AT&T aerial copper telephone cables have been stolen four times in different locations near the Blackey area within the last two weeks.
About 1,000 pounds of cable valued at $13,000 was taken, said Cathy Lewandowski, senior public relations manager of AT&T Strategic Communications.
On November 19, copper was stolen along Highway 7. Lines located on Tolson Road were taken on November 21. Copper was stolen along Highway 588 on November 23 and 584 pounds of cable were taken along Highway 160 on November 26.
It is a felony under federal law to tamper with phone lines that the public uses to place emergency calls or to request emergency assistance. Copper thefts can affect public safety by preventing communications or emergency response capabilities such as 911 service.
Kentucky and other states require scrap-metal dealers to keep detailed and extensive records of their transactions in an electronic format, including the seller’s photograph, signature and their vehicle’s information. In addition, penalties for damaging a communication or utility facility or interrupting services can include a felony conviction carrying prison time and heavy fines.
AT&T is working with law enforcement agencies and scrap metal dealers in the City of Whitesburg and Letcher County to catch those responsible for several thefts that have occurred in the past several weeks.
AT&T urges anyone with information on the recent copper thefts to call the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department at 633-2293, Kentucky State Police at 606-435-6069 or AT&T Asset Protection at 1-800-807- 4205.