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

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“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.

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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.

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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