The FBI is asking Californians for help in catching a mysterious cable guy – or crew – responsible for severing fiber-optic lines 11 times in the last year. The incidents have disrupted Internet, cable TV and phone service in dozens of communities and have impacted customers as far north as Seattle.
The latest incident happened last week, affecting three major Internet cables serving the Sacramento area, according to a Daily Beast report. The disruption reportedly slowed access to Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service in the Western United States and knocked out 911 service in a Sacramento community.
The cost of the damaged lines hasn’t been disclosed, but the disruption in services have been felt in some of the San Francisco Bay area’s most digitally-dependent communities, including Fremont, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Berkeley, and San Jose. But a major line serving Northern Arizona was also severed in February, disabling Internet, cellphone, and landline phone service for several hours, according to the FBI.
The motive of the cable cutters remains unclear and no one has publicly taken credit for the damage.
An FBI spokesman said the perpetrators in most cases gained access to the fiber-optic cables by lifting manhole covers. The damages were repaired relatively quickly, but investigators are still searching for more clues to bring the disruptions to a halt.