The FBI is still hunting for California’s fiber-optic cable cutter

fiber optic, computing
CreativeCommons
Update 4:20PM September 16, 2015 by Matt Smith: Despite its efforts, the FBI still hasn’t caught up to California’s fiber vandals. AT&T has posted a $250,000 reward for information leading to the culprits’ arrest and conviction. FBI agents believe the suspects are posing as utility workers as cover for their vandalism.

This was spurred by a pair of new incidents that happened in Livermore, California. The bandits accessed two different manholes and cut fiber somewhere around 10:30 PM on September 14. These cases bring the total number of incidents to 11 since the spree began in July of 2014.

Update 10:52AM July 17, 2015 by Matt Smith: The fiber optic bandit remains at large and has found another victim, this time a cable near the town of Stockton, California. A cable serving three counties was severed on July 12, cutting off three AT&T and Verizon customers in three counties. Service was restored within a day. The FBI still has no leads on the case, as the attacks continue to occur in remote areas lacking surveillance.

Update 10:20 AM on July 1, 2015 by Brad BourqueThe cable cutter has struck again, this time cutting three lines and interrupting a number of services starting in Sacramento, and reaching all the way up to Seattle, according to Ars Technica. The vandalism continues to baffle FBI investigators, with this attack striking a fiber vault about 40 miles southeast of San Francisco. The clipping affected a number of Internet wholesalers connection services, as well as slowing down Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

Original Text: Evidently, someone in San Francisco is not a fan of fiber-optic telecommunications.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently attempting to determine who has been severing fiber-optic cables around the Bay Area, according to Ars Technica. One of the most recent incidents took place in Walnut Creek, a suburb of Oakland, Calif., on June 9. The vandalism rendered landline and wireless AT&T customers without service until repairs could be made. AT&T is now offering a $1,000 reward for anyone with tips on who the cable-snipper may be.

There have been 10 incidents reported thus far. The cable-cutting began last July in Berkeley, Calif., and since then services have been knocked out around the state. Other towns and cities that have been impacted include Fremont, San Jose, and Alamo. While most of the events occurred in the middle of the night, the most recent one happened at 1:38 p.m.

Back in 2013, the San Jose Pacific Gas & Electric substation was sabotaged. While some have speculated that the acts are related, the FBI does not currently think that the most recent power knockouts are linked. At the substation, 17 transformers were destroyed with sniper fire.

Federal analysis has shown that the destruction of nine key substations in the U.S. could result in a nationwide power outage, according to the Wall Street Journal. Since the release of this information in 2014, there has been heightened concern surrounding the vulnerability of the country’s power grids.

Greg Wuthrich, an FBI special agent, is urging the public to report any suspicious activity that could be linked to the San Fran cable cutting. He also specified that the suspects might appear to be average telecommunications maintenance workers, and might be holding cable-cutting tools.

Any information pertaining to the crime or to other cable-cutting incidents in the area can be reported to the FBI on their site, tips.fbi.gov.

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