Would-be copper thief disrupts cable service for Issaquah customers

December 29, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

UPDATED — 4:50 p.m. Dec. 29, 2009

Vandalism caused cable outages Saturday and Monday for about 6,000 Broadstripe customers, including Issaquah Highlands and Providence Point residents.

Customers experienced outages from 4:15 p.m. Monday to 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, and from 7 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Saturday after a vandal damaged a utility conduit near Duvall — and then vandalized temporary repairs.

Broadstripe General Manager David Irons said alarms alerted the cable provider to the initial outage. A vandal cut into a large fiber optic cable near state Route 203 and Fay Road Northeast, just outside Duvall.

Irons said he suspects a thief hoping to score valuable copper cut into the cable. Instead, the vandal discovered a fiber optic cable critical to cable service for customers in Duvall and parts of Issaquah, Sammamish, Redmond and Kirkland.

“Bolt cutters and fiber optics don’t go well together,” Irons said.

A would-be copper thief would view the thick cable as “the mother lode” — at least until he or she cut into the cable, Irons said. High prices also make copper wire a frequent target at construction sites.

Irons, a former King County Council and Issaquah School Board member, described the outages as a “worst-case scenario.” Besides the holiday weekend disruption, the location — along state Route 203, with no turnouts for Broadstripe trucks — proved tricky for repair crews.

TV lineups during the outage added insult to injury. Customers called Broadstripe to complain because college football bowl games on Saturday and Monday Night Football were unavailable.

After workers patched the cut Saturday, a vandal damaged the repaired section Monday afternoon. Crews worked through the night to repair the latest damage.

Irons encouraged people to report suspicious activity near utility poles and junctions to authorities. Irons plans to draft a letter to customers impacted by the outage. He said the letter would explain the issue and how Broadstripe prepares for such damage.

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