HESPERIA • Recent repeated cable thefts are playing havoc with hundreds of phone and Internet connections and threatening vital services, residents and company officials say.
Jennifer Nelson and her Hesperia neighbors near Main Street and I Avenue have experienced phone and high-speed Internet outages three times since January, she said, all due to thefts of copper telephone cables.
Most recently, service went out Wednesday night for Nelson and more than 100 customers, Verizon spokesman Jarryd Gonzales said.
About 300 feet of cable was stolen, he said, but technicians restored service by 8 a.m. Thursday.
"This has definitely been a problem over the last year — at least," Gonzales said.
Thieves often approach equipment locations at night, cut cables and leave with them, he said. The copper is removed and taken to metal-recycling centers for cash.
Verizon has logged more than 35 such cases in San Bernardino and Riverside counties since January, Gonzales said.
He said vital public services and support agencies that lose telecom connections put humans and animals at risk.
"Verizon offers a reward for up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals responsible for copper cable theft and cable vandalism that have put public safety at risk for hundreds of customers in Southern California and caused unnecessary telephone service outages," Gonzales said in an email.
The company also supports legislation that helps prevent metal thieves from being able to get quick cash for stolen property, he said.
To report thefts or vandalism to Verizon property, call the company's security control center at (800) 997-3287.
Callers can report any metal theft to San Bernardino County Sheriff's Dispatch at (760) 245-4211 or remain anonymous by calling WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME.