By Beth Germano, WBZ-TVBy Beth Germano

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.

Beth Germano

Comments (85)
  1. Fred says:

    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.

    1. maxtor says:

      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.

      1. Zetrox says:

        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!

      2. chad says:

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

      3. den says:

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

      4. Nema says:

        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. .

      5. Spanky says:

        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!

      6. John says:

        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.

      7. Spanky says:

        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.

      8. Phil Parks says:

        Is that better than “Kentucky Fried Chicken”?

    2. Hal says:

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

    3. scott says:

      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

  2. MrTelco1948 says:

    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?

    1. Spanky says:

      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!

    2. Galvo says:

      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.

      1. Kile Anderson says:

        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.

    3. snoopy says:

      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.

  3. Larry Greenwalt says:

    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

    1. Nema says:

      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?

      1. Yirmin says:

        The government.

  4. jamie says:

    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.

    1. Spanky says:

      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?

    2. Mark Carlton says:

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

  5. Todd says:

    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.

    1. Bob B says:

      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.

      1. Galvo says:

        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.

    2. BigBoa says:


      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……

    3. DaddyB says:

      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!

    4. Matthew says:

      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.

    5. den says:

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

    6. Beanzzz says:

      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?

  6. tired of whining liberals says:

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

  7. maxtor says:

    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.

  8. LA1211 says:

    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.\

  9. jill says:

    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!

  10. egoist says:

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

  11. Sven says:

    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.

  12. Sven says:

    Good Call Mr. DoI

  13. joe says:

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

    1. den says:

      he is is from the Daily KOS

    2. Obamabot says:

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

    3. Joe Greenwell says:

      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.

    4. dano says:

      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.

  14. Jopmcg says:

    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.

  15. Alleycat says:

    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.

  16. bobxyz says:

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

  17. Pete says:

    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 .

  18. slimcat says:

    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.

  19. bobxyz says:

    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?

    1. Farmer Bob says:

      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?

  20. Wow says:

    Another sign of America’s Third World status.

  21. Guess Who says:

    Joe, just STFU and quit whining.

  22. blorjr says:

    Obamas base at work

  23. Pete says:

    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!

  24. Durgator says:

    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.

  25. barb says:

    This is RIGHT out of Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. We are in for some dark days.

  26. Brian C says:

    Everyone here politicizing this, please take a deep breath and relax. Copper theft has nothing to do with politics. The thieves are almost always drug addicts who need a quick buck. The money from copper theft is not something that is really going to feed a family, you would typically make more money from a single shift at McDonalds. Do some Googling and you’ll find a few stories of junkies electrocuting themselves trying to take out the wrong wire.

  27. Jeff Macri says:

    All thanks to the Fed Induced commodities bubbles…

  28. Jeff Macri says:

    They forced the Fed to artificially increase the cost of commodities with QE1 & QE2. Copper should cost half what it’s currently going for. Just like oil!!!

  29. argie bargie says:

    Copper sells for $4 a pound. Not much of a payday

  30. gbo says:

    Which ones? Corporate or mid management?

  31. Drudgie On A Rant says:

    Sign posted: Please don’t feed the trolls.

  32. HoHoHo says:

    OH good, anoher “summer of recovery” is blossoming.

  33. Herman Cain for Prez says:

    @BigBoa – check out Herman Cain. ‘Nuff said

  34. PacRim Jim says:

    The steal copper because they have a low blood lead level. A single inoculation with a .45 lead pellet will clear the thefts right up.

  35. tom g says:

    most likely a union electrician trying to drum up IBEW work

  36. Ed Ward II says:

    Obama has destroyed the country.

    1. tom g says:

      OOPs did I mention my union siad vote for him?

  37. tom g says:

    the removal of tel wire in chelmsford mass was done by a disgruntled tel worker that no longer had his job and knew what to cu for max damage.

    1. Stroganovsky says:

      Not by this article. Source?

    2. tom g says:

      Sorry Lowell Sun, don’t doubt me, sorry kind of unrelated

  38. chuck in st paul says:

    The Third World in America. I haven’t seen this kind of thing since I left the Philippines. Well, 52% voted for ‘Change’. Ya got it. How’s it workin’ for ya…??

    I guess they need the extra cash for pay-per-view on their 52 inch 3D TV. You know welfare ain’t what it used to be.

  39. Capt_Incredulous says:

    Hey Joe…Do you lack the intelligence to realize that people stealing copper for money is the sympton of a much larger problem? I didn’t think so. Maybe you would do well by perusing Drudge once in a while. It may broaden your understanding of the larger issues.

  40. Capt_Incredulous says:

    Hey Joe…Do you lack the intelligence to realize that people stealing copper for money is the sympton of a much larger problem? I didn’t think so. Maybe you would do well by perusing Drudge once in a while. It may broaden your understanding of the larger issues.

  41. OrdinaryAmericanEnglish says:

    Hey Gomez…pedantic and verbose…

  42. Gulielmo Cappucci says:

    Why cut the wires? Just squeeze some peanut butter on them from some packets and let squirrel vermin do the work for you.

  43. dano says:

    On your knees, Joe, you idiot.

  44. tom g says:

    you are not blaming the IBEW. boston 103 has a 2 1/2 year waiting list for getting back to work. Guess again!

  45. E.W. says:

    OK Mr. Web-master….. I’m in the middle of reading a comment and the page refreshes and doesn’t bring me back to the comment I was reading!!!! Just flashing off in the middle of a sentence is bad enough, but not linking back to the comment I was reading is just rude!

    I HATE THAT! AND what the heck is it for?

  46. Daryl Allen says:

    As a former law enforcement investigator I responded to numerous complaints of copper theft from residences and phone substations. In a neighboring county they cut the wires for the state radios so none of the state ambulance service or patrol units (including forestry and marine patrols) could reach their dispatchers. This problem is a long standing one. Unless they are caught in the act it is hard to prove in court and restitution is even harder. Hate to hear what happened in Boston.

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