Nearly $30,000 worth of AT&T aerial copper telephone cable has been stolen in Letcher County since November, according to an AT&T spokesperson.
Copper thefts have occurred along Highway 7 South and Highway 931, said Cathy Lewandowski, senior public relations manager of AT&T Strategic Communications. Highway 7 South goes through Blackey, Deane, Isom, Jeremiah and Ulvah. Highway 931 spans from Colson to Kingscreek.
Lt. Brian Damron of the of the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department, said arrests are pending.
“It poses a public threat because it shuts down the ability for people to call 9-1-1,” said Damron.
The steady rise in the market price of copper over the last few years and the state of the economy has led some people to extreme measures, including stealing copper cables from houses and telephone poles, said Lewandowski.
“Kentuckians depend on telecommunications for so many things, especially in emergencies,” said State Representative Leslie Combs. “Copper theft is a serious problem and the Kentucky legislature has worked extensively to address it. But local law enforcement needs the help of local citizens to put a stop to copper theft. If you see anything suspicious, please alert local authorities. By working together, we can help put an end to copper theft.”
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, said Lewandowski. Scrap-metal dealers are required by Kentucky law to keep detailed electronic transaction records to include the seller’s photograph, signature and vehicle’s information.
“The leadership of the General Assembly in their efforts to stop copper theft has been tremendous,” said Hood Harris, president, AT&T Kentucky. “However, it takes the support and vigilance of entire communities to put an end to copper theft so that service is not interrupted for Kentuckians who rely on our networks to communicate.”
AT&T urges shop owners, employees and anyone with information on the recent copper thefts to call the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department (606) 633-2293, Kentucky State Police at (606) 435-6069 or AT&T Asset Protection at 1 (800) 807-4205.