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FBI Seeking Public Help In Search For Fiber Optic Vandals

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The Rocky Ridge communications tower was toppled by vandals in 2013. PHOTO: Mark Harrigan

A string of deliberate attacks on underground fiber optic telecommunications systems throughout Contra Costa County and elsewhere has sparked the interest of the FBI – with the agency asking for public help in finding the persons responsible for the crimes.

The FBI reported deliberate attacks on buried fiber optic cables at 10 locations in the East and South Bay over the past year, including in Alamo and Walnut Creek earlier this month.

Vandals cut buried cables near the corner of Jones Road and Parkside Drive in Walnut Creek last Monday, disrupting Internet for thousands of users – including non-emergency systems for the City of Walnut Creek.

Investigators said the vandalism first dates back to the night of July 6, 2014 when vandals attacked fiber optic lines near the corner of Seventh and Grayson streets in Berkeley.

Later that same night, cables were cut in Fremont near the corner of Niles Canyon and Mission boulevards at 11:39 p.m.

The vandalism – some have called the perpetrators saboteurs – continued at Jones Road and Iron Horse Trail in Walnut Creek, and about 30 minutes after that the perpetrators returned to Fremont, cutting cables at Niles Canyon Boulevard and Alameda Creek.

Finally, vandals cut cables near Stockton and University avenues in San Jose at 2:13 a.m.

An FBI spokesman said there were no incidents after the initial string of attacks until February 24 of this year, when cables were cut twice along Niles Canyon Road in Fremont at about 11:30 p.m.

Vandals returned to cut cables the night of June 8 near Danville Boulevard and Rudgear Road in Alamo, on Overacker Avenue and Mowry Avenue in Fremont, and the next day in Walnut Creek.

The FBI said the recent strings of vandalism of underground cables is not believed to be related to the sabotage of the PG&E Metcalf substation near San Jose on April 16, 2013 or the toppling of a telecommunications tower on Rocky Ridge that same year.

In addition to cutting fiber optic lines at the Metcalf substation, the saboteurs used a high-powered rifle to shoot out transformers there. Cutting the fiber optic cables there caused widespread phone outages, including for some emergency dispatch services.

The FBI is looking for any witnesses to the vandalism over the last year and is asking anyone with information to contact the San Francisco FBI field office at (415) 553-7400 or to leave a tip at tips.fbi.gov.

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