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Verizon offers $50K reward in copper thefts

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 6:44 a.m.

Verizon continues to be plagued by copper thieves in Pittsburgh and the Mon-Yough suburbs.

A pole was stripped near the Allegheny-Westmoreland county line in the most recent incident.

“It affected a small number of customers,” Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski said.

North Huntingdon Township resident George Ihnat was one of them.

“I was waiting for a business call the other day and I found out we didn't have service,” Ihnat said. “So I missed that call.”

Ihnat said he is aware of the problems at an installation near the Boston Bridge in Elizabeth Township. Gierczynski said damage there has exceeded $100,000.

On Monday, Verizon said it is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the individuals responsible for the thefts of copper telephone cables on Pittsburgh's North Side.

“These incidents are incomprehensible because they put people's lives in danger and can cost thousands of dollars to repair,” director of operations Hank Abbott said. “We will not tolerate these deliberate and malicious acts against our telephone network and our customers.”

Verizon said there have been nearly 20 incidents on the North Side in the last couple years, the most recent last week when more than 2,000 feet of copper cable were stolen at a cost of $400,000 in damages.

Gierczynski said the thefts have caused hundreds of local phone customers unnecessary service delays and put their personal safety at risk.

Ihnat said he can't imagine no one sees the vandalism going on.

Gierczynski said Verizon is urging anyone with information to contact Verizon Security at 800-997-3287, or local law enforcement authorities.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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