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Cerritos cable-amplifier thefts hit TV, Web

April 25, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Televisions and computers are "going dark" in the Cerritos community, and authorities blame thieves who are stealing expensive parts from outdoor cable television boxes.

It's a real mystery that's affecting Cerritos. Someone is stealing a specific electronic component, and authorities don't know who is doing it or why. Hundreds of cable subscribers have been affected. And so far the thieves show no sign of slowing down.

They are the kind of things that often go unnoticed, just another element of the suburban landscape: plastic boxes that are part of a cable television distribution system. Inside the boxes are signal amplifiers that look like small radiators. Someone has stolen 25 of the amplifiers over the past several weeks.

"Back on April 5 we had 14 of them stolen, and then following that up, on April 15 we had six more, then on April 18 we had five more after that," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Richard Harpham at the Cerritos Station.

Harpham at the Cerritos Station says the boxes do not contain copper, so the thieves are not after recycling materials. They are after the component itself, which he says can cost up to $600 to replace.

"There's a market for these somewhere, whether it's foreign or domestic, we're not sure, we really don't have any leads on that at this point, we're just trying to work with them to try to cut down the amount of thefts, and apprehend whoever's doing this," said Harpham.

In other cities, the cable amplifiers are located on utility poles. But in Cerritos, all utilities have to be underground, making the amplifiers more accessible to thieves.

Without the signal amplifiers, cable television, Internet and phone service can be interrupted for hours.

The cable amplifiers belong to Cox Communications. The cable provider issued a statement: "There are significant legal consequences for intentionally damaging a communications network, which carry significant penalties..."

Most of the cable amplifiers have been stolen in the very early morning hours, about 4 or 5 a.m.

Sheriff's investigators are hoping someone has seen something, so they are asking anyone with information about the incidents to call (562) 860-0044

Strangely, sheriff's officials say they had a similar situation happen exactly two years ago. That's when 10 of these amplifiers were stolen. And they have no idea what the thief or thieves are doing with them.


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