Quincy Copper Thieves Steal Phone Lines, Knock Out Service

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

QUINCY (CBS) – Police in Quincy are dealing with a kind of copper theft they haven’t seen before. Someone cut the copper telephone wires from two utility poles in the city; working lines that service Verizon customers. One of the customers, Cheryl Percy who owns Miller photography studio on Foster Street, lost telephone service for several hours.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports

“We didn’t have any idea why the phone wasn’t ringing. “We thought ‘what’s happening here,'” she said.

Police say thieves cut through plastic sheathing to get at the valuable copper wires. They allegedly cut off a four-foot section, exposing 300 pairs of wires. Quincy police Sgt. Patrick Faherty says the vandals hope to make some quick cash, but it’s risky for a quick return.

“It appears to be a crime of opportunity in that sense, and from a public safety perspective, we are concerned that people treat any electrical wire as if it’s live,” he said.

Copper remains a hot commodity for thieves, and stealing items made from copper has become a crime communities across the state are dealing with in tough economic times.

For Cheryl Percy the crime became an inconvenience she could have done without. “A few clients were a little bit upset when they couldn’t reach us, but they got over it and came in today,” she said.

Verizon says it’ll cost at least $2,000 to repair each of the two poles that were vandalized, though it’s unlikely the thieves will get that kind of money at a scrap yard.

Police call it another sign of desperation. “With the economy the way it is, you may continue to see crimes like this,” said Sgt. Faherty.

And it’s not just Quincy. Braintree and Dorchester also had utility poles vandalized affecting at least 200 customers in all three communities.

More from Beth Germano
  • Fred

    Too bad they didn’t go after the heavier wires at the top of the poles…..
    110 or 220 volts near the top and 6700 or better volts at the top.

    • scott

      whats really funny is 4 feet of 300 pair tell wire has less then a pound of copper in it. so all that hard work theiving landed them with less then 4 dollers lol.oo and the power lines are more like 12000 volts

    • Hal

      No, no, no. Those “high-voltage” wires are safe..And they’re worth a lot of money.

    • maxtor

      a bit more hot than 110 or 220…..110 & 220 is what you have in your house after it is run thru a transformer…you are talking thousands of volts/amps of electricity on the pole. in arkansas they have had some fools to try it and was fried like a chicken.

      • Phil Parks

        Is that better than “Kentucky Fried Chicken”?

      • John

        Um . . . its 120 or 240. If you wish to find these thieves, look to the illegal immigrant community. This type of thing has been happening here in California for years. Just a few months ago, the cops responded to a fire at an abandon golf course. When the fire department put the fire out, they found two dead illegal immigrants dead at the base of a high current transformer. Seems they cut into a 22,000 volt line and burst into flames.

      • Spanky

        No it actually drops it to 130v thats why they actually made tungsten bulbs that were 130v rated incase like 122v was getting in which many times is the case!10v in suppose to vanish by the time it hits the house but often it does not happen.

      • Spanky

        Fred said it right! The top lines have thousand more volts that’s why they go to the transformer! The transformer’s step the voltage down too 130v per leg!

      • Nema

        maxor; Fred is right. The rated voltage coming from the transformers atop the pole is 220vac. The 110vac is ‘split’ off from the 220vac at the box. The average voltage on the power lines from the sub station is ~ 6700vac. .

      • den

        They are stealing whole outdoor AC units down south. What’s not copper it is Alum.

      • chad

        Would love to see that – I can hear the sizzle from here.

      • Zetrox

        It’s gonna get worse than ya think. With the copper prices up so high and “The Obama Change” peeps are hungary and will do anything to save their kids from being homeless and hungary. Peeps Voted for a “CHANGE” and they got it! With the Gas prices like they are you will see more of the copper theiving going on and within old factories, old malls, etc. I’ve already seen it!

  • MrTelco1948

    I recently retired from Verizon as an outside maintenance technician. The sad truth of the matter is that the only reason Verizon would be upset is because they had to scrounge around to find a section of 300 pair copper cable, and then had to pay the cable technicians to do the job. I can assure you that Verizon cares nothing about the copper customers being out of service. Verizon made a deliberate decision several years ago to just “let the copper plant go” and hopefully force customers onto their FIOS fiber network. Am I bitter? What do you think?

    • snoopy

      Hey zetrox,
      HUNGARY is a country not a condition.
      The word is hungry.
      I guess we know you have a government education.
      There is no justification for this kind of vandalism and thievery.

    • Galvo

      Very true. I’ve worked in the old Bell System, NYTEL, NYNEX,,BellAtlantic, and now Verizon for a total of 33 years and I’ve never seen such a lack of concern for providing service to our customers. The only concern is the bottom line and return to the stockholders. If any manager from Verizon cares to debate this, please explain why Verizon consistently fights any and all regulation and service standards.

      • Kile Anderson

        Bottom line and return to the stockholders is all they should be concerned about. That’s their job. They were hired to provide profit to the stockholders. PERIOD. That’s how this country was built and that is what will make us great once again once we kick the socialists out of power.

    • Spanky

      Copper is in the past it’s a dieing thing for communications..Fiber should be rolled out quickly that way they can just let the copper go!

  • Larry Greenwalt

    yep Verizon could care less about copper wire, its why we in the ‘burbs got sold to Frontier…cheaper to sell us then to upgrade us

    • Nema

      LARRY; Business operate on profits. Without profits, there is NO business. The consumer WILL PAY for the cost of replacement (material, labor, and costs associated with same) . We don’t know of anyone who loses money for the sake of operating a business—DO YOU?

      • Yirmin

        The government.

  • jamie

    A single mode optical fibre cable is worth several times more than a cable made of copper… Its ironic they would take copper and not be looking for the optical cables. It’s just a lot easier to sell a bunch of copper to a recycling plant than it is to try and find people to buy single-mode fibre.

    • Mark Carlton

      Don’t confuse being more costly to buy initially with being worth more (and easier to liquidate) used.

    • Spanky

      Jamie there is no market for a used piece of fiber right now! What you think your going to do walk into a verizon building and say hey you wanna buy you fiber back?

  • Todd

    Typical east coast mentality. The Verizon employee sounds like a union whiner, the Wall Street blamer sounds like a liberal whiner. What is it with you east coast whiners – get a life for crying out loud – your whining makes me whine – be happy! Life is too short for all of your whining.

    • Beanzzz

      And you know that … how? Did you *accidentally on purpose* click on Drudge today?

      Anyway, so what if they are? Would it be any different if they came from AOL or Yahoo?

    • den

      in force ??? Joe is this a private forum ?

    • Matthew

      Actually, Todd, while they may be ‘East coast whiners’, I am neither a union guy, nor an ‘East coast’ guy (though I live on the East coast now). Verizon is one of the least customer friendly companies I have ever had to deal with. I have even been hung up on by one of their ‘customer service reps’! If you need something done, you typically have to go through several layers of ‘technicians’ before you can find someone who knows what they are doing. When I had DSL installed, it took several months. Finally the Verizon rep told me that I would have to pay for a technician to come out to determine the problem, “maybe it was old wire or something”. I live in a brand new neighborhood with brand new cable. I put a note on the local phone shelter asking the local tech if he could help. He told me that Verizon never informed him to ‘flip the switch’. I had DSL that afternoon. I have often commented, “You know the ‘Verizon guy’ – ‘can you hear me now?’ – with all those Verizon people standing behind him. Well your service guy is the one in back and you have to go through all these people to get something done.”
      It is not whining, it is an observation of a VERY BAD company when it comes to working with their customers.

    • DaddyB

      East Coast Mentality? LOL….Generalizations like this come from ignorance, and we have enought of this in DC already! It is better to be silent than to speak and be known to be ignorant!

    • BigBoa


      The ones the mighty Boa gets the biggest kick out of are the “I’m really very conservative but I hate companies making more than me,,, GO UNIONS!!”…..

      AH HAHAHA!!!! Too funny……

    • Bob B

      Mr Telco 1948 is right. Both I and my wife worked for what is now Verizon for 30+ years. Verizon quit maintaining outside plant copper (the last mile to the majority of customers) many years ago. They want to dump the copper network, and customers, in favor of high margin FIOS, wireless and large business (fiber to the complex). As I am sure Mr Telco will agree,back when Verizon was concerned about service, it was the norm to be called out on Christmas and/or Thanksgiving to repair service to one customer 20 miles from town. Working several days and night without time off during storm outages was very common. Storm outage means very inclement weather, ever walk in 2 or 3 miles with snowshoes to find a trouble?. No complaining, just do your job and be proud of your work. I am a very conservative politically, was a union member when unions had a purpose and was a dedicated employee.

      • Galvo

        I have to agree with you, Bob. I worked the night shift for years in NYC, working in manholes, often 7 days a week after a watermain break or a building fire or construction accident. Guys I worked with in the 70’s were still on the job in 2001 when the Twin Towers fell. The steel from the towers pierced the street to a depth of 30-50 feet and cut every cable coming out of West St ( the gothic looking building that bordered the WTC complex on the north. The linemen and splicers did heroic work, dropping cables out of blown out windows and running them along the street in order to get the NY Stock Exchange up and running in less than a week.

  • tired of whining liberals

    Treat the theives (not victims) just like a Marine Sentry would. Halt, halt, halt, BANG!

  • maxtor

    guess it will make the gas go up at the pump….seems like everything else or claims to affect the price of gas when actually it has nothing to do with gas but is an excuse to raise the price of gas instead of just outright gouging which we the public takes all the time from these big corps.just unbelievable how the corps rip off the public with all the billions they have but actual make money for the stockholders/ceo’s/cfo’s etc, which is the people with all the money in the first place….if you are poor then usually you will stay poor….it takes money to make money believe it or not.

  • http://thedailyconservative.net/2011/05/16/update-copper-thieves-steal-phone-lines-knock-out-service-to-hundreds/ UPDATE: Copper Thieves Steal Phone Lines, Knock Out Service To Hundreds… | The Daily Conservative

    […] (First column, 10th story, link) […]

  • LA1211

    I wanted to respond to Sr. Geeky Gomez earlier, but I was so busy, I simply did not have the time. Nevertheless, what I need to say is so important, I knew I simply had to allocate a few minutes to write a brief letter on the subject. What follows is a set of observations I have made about flagitious prevaricators. His hotheaded disquisitions are fraught with the gravest consequences. That’s the sort of statement that some people aver is shallow but which I believe is merely a statement of fact. And it’s a statement that needs to be made because rigid adherence to dogmatic purity will lead only to disunity while we clearly need unity to invigorate the effort to reach solutions by increasing the scope of the inquiry rather than by narrowing or abandoning it. If Gomez’s plan to elevate bilious poxy-types to the sublime is to be discouraged then the wisest course of action is to ring the bells of truth. Before we start down that road I ought to remind you that far too many people tolerate his bromides as long as they’re presented in small, seemingly harmless doses. What these people fail to realize, however, is that if I thought that Gomez’s statements had even a snowball’s chance in Hell of doing anything good for anyone, then I wouldn’t be so critical. As they stand, however, I can conclude only that Gomez is a being who invents nothing, originates nothing, and improves nothing. All he does is do away with intellectual honesty. I can see from the length of what I’ve written so far that I should save the rest of my comments about Sr. Geeky Gomez for a future letter. Let me close by stating simply that Gomez’s hypocrisy has reached a new low.\

  • jill

    This occurs in third world countries, and has been going on for decades. They eat their own infrastructures.

    Welcome to America in 2011; a third world cess pool. Way to go Team America!

  • egoist

    Busted…”you are allowed to make one phone call”…”hey, this phone ain’t work’n! My rights have been violated.”

  • Sven

    This type of theft is old news. Africa has been doing this for years. Lived in Ghana in the 90’s and all phones were out. Guess Why. You guessed it the lines were cut down and sold for Money.

  • Sven

    Good Call Mr. DoI

  • joe

    What does Obama have to do with any of this? The drudge effect is out in full force today…

    • Joe Greenwell

      Hey Joe it is because BHO is doing everythnig to destroy the economy. Do you know see the connection? I have a MBA and own a small business and the current goverenment is doing the exact opposite of everything I was taught.

    • dano

      Obama has ruined the economy and driven up commodity prices, you blasted moron! Plus he refuses to kick the damned illegal Mexican criminal aliens out of our country.

    • Obamabot

      Obama has everything to do with everything. He is the Madi !

    • den

      he is is from the Daily KOS

  • Jopmcg

    Yea we are truly becoming the third world nation that oboma has envisioned. We have oboma gardens, rolling black outs, and now they are stealing the infrastructure to get high.

  • Alleycat

    I’ve even seen this happen in Canada decades ago where thieves removed the brass water meter and sprinkler heads from an industrial building after shutting off the water supply. They also stripped the building of copper electrical buss bars after shorting out the electrical supply system.

  • http://franktroha.wordpress.com bobxyz

    Yet we’re being told our economy is getting better.

  • Pete

    This is direct result of the devaluation the dollar – Thanks to – Bush (bailouts) , Obama(continuing bailouts, economic stimulus plan, Congress and the Fed for turning US into 3rd would country .

  • slimcat

    Right, the economy made them do it. Question: What is the reason for thievery when the economy is good? Answer: The same reason as when the economy is bad, lack of character.

  • http://franktroha.wordpress.com bobxyz

    Wall Street has wrecked the US economy. Fundamentally, it’s rotten, rigged and unregulated. Because of the trillions in toxic derivatives it created, American society has been pushed to the brink of chaos. No, terrible economic times don’t force everyone into a life of crime, but it does push some of the unethical, immoral ones over the edge to the point where they engage in petty theft. The irony here is we get all concerned over copper thieves when the biggest crooks exist on Wall Street. They have saddled average Americans with trillions of dollars of debt and get a pass. Not one Wall Street executive is in prison. Yet copper thieves will go to jail. Tell me, who deserves punishment more: a copper thief or a Wall Street pig?

    • Farmer Bob

      When you say “Wall Street” are you speaking of Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner specifically, or do you mean all of Obama’s Goldman Sachs appointees?

  • Wow

    Another sign of America’s Third World status.

  • Guess Who

    Joe, just STFU and quit whining.

  • blorjr

    Obamas base at work

  • Pete

    The Liberals in Boston will come up with some kind of
    Welfare Aid Package caused by the Copper theft. The
    Kennedy Copper Clapper Caper, bend over taxpayers!

  • Durgator

    You import a third world population, let the Masters of the Universe create a third world economy and you end up with third world crimes.

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