Frontier offering reward in copper thefts

Company officials say thefts up more than 400%
Frontier offering reward for information leading to copper theft arrests
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 6:36 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON/CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Copper thefts are on the rise in West Virginia, causing serious -- even life-threatening problems for those who need their landlines.

Frontier Communications officials say this year compared to last, copper line thefts are up more than 400%.

For the first time in West Virginia, Frontier is asking for your help. And, if you know something, there’s a reward.

The Cabin Creek area of Kanawha County has been a problem area where drivers have been forced to seriously slow it down. It was down to one lane Wednesday as crews repaired hundreds of feet of copper lines that were stolen late last week.

“This particular area is really bad,” said Jason Fields, Frontier’s senior vice president of operations, explaining that Cabin Creek Road is a hot spot. “We’ve had 19 incidents this year just on this road.”

The latest theft left at least 300 customers, multiple businesses -- even coal mine circuits -- without Frontier’s service since Sept. 1.

WSAZ’s Sarah Sager asked, “This a pretty extensive copper theft right here?”

“It is,” Fields responded.

Sager: “Is this one of the bigger ones you’ve seen?”

Fields: “It is. This is a piece of the cable. This came off of that. There’s 900 pairs of copper inside of that. It’s very heavy. There’s 275 feet. You can see this is off the road, so imagine the weight of that from this side to that side. It’s a pretty big operation.”

After thieves haul the copper away, Frontier crews told Sager that they strip the cover and burn anything left off the copper, then sell it to scrap metal recycling centers. They estimate this theft could have put $10,000 in the thieves’ pockets.

Sager: “Would security be something Frontier would think about on a road like this? Or is that just not feasible?”

Fields: “It is some, but it’s 24 by 7. It’s so hard. If you think about even with this road, it’s so long. It is difficult. It’s something we have looked at. We’ve talked about trail cams and other things.”

Now, Frontier wants your help. The company is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

Fields: “We’re putting it in place right now.”

Sager: “Why announce it on WSAZ?

Fields: “It’s hot off the press. We huddled internally and talked. We had done this recently in Arizona and were very successful. We caught somebody and prosecuted them. We brought this up yesterday when we were talking about meeting with WSAZ. I said, ‘You know what. Let’s do the same thing here. Let’s offer the reward statewide and see if that helps us catch the person doing this.’ "

Fields says Frontier workers will always have visible logos on the side of their trucks showing they are doing legitimate work. You’ll also see flaggers, cones, and signs showing it’s official.

Customers affected by copper theft outages will be credited for time their service was offline, but you need to contact the company at 800-590-6605.

Fields said customers affected by the outage on Cabin Creek Road should be back online by Thursday.