Phone vandals possibly caught on camera

April 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Jose Police say they're getting a number of tips and are methodically sifting through them as the focus of the fiber optic vandalism case shifts from restoring service to zeroing in on the culprits.

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Sgt. Ronnie Lopez, public information officer for the police department, said the reward has been raised to $250,000 for the tip that leads to prosecution of the case. Yesterday, AT&T had offered a $100,000 reward.

Meantime, in San Carlos where additional fiber optic cables were cut, police confirmed they are reviewing recordings taken by a red light camera that document the vandalism. The camera sits at the intersection of Brittan Avenue and Industrial Way. Commander Rich Cinfio said he anticipates the review of the camera recording will be done by Monday.

"We're beginning a full-court press on this to try to solve this as soon as possible," said Sgt. Ronnie Lopez with the San Jose Police Department. "We're working close with the allied agencies, specifically San Carlos, the FBI's monitoring the investigation, and we're hoping to get this resolved as quickly and as efficiently as possible."

While land line, cellular and Internet service has been mostly restored in south Santa Clara County and in neighboring Santz Cruz and San Benito counties, employees at Sal's Pizza in Morgan Hill were putting up a "cash only" sign in the door for the second day in a row. Zach Baird, a manager, said the restaurant was still unable to connect to the Internet to process credit card transactions.

A few doors away, Diana Rasta, the owner of Stems Floral Boutique in Vineyard Town Center, was processing nine credit card transactions from Thursday that could not be completed due to the telecommunications blackout. She estimates she lost about 20 sales when she could not take phone calls, although some customers walked in to place orders due to the phone outage.

Customers at the Bank of America branch on East Dunne Avenue were using ATMs Friday that were offline the day before.

The West Coast media relations representative did not return a call about the impact on online and in-branch loan payments delayed by the outage. Wells Fargo Bank said 12 of its offices in the affected area closed early Thursday on the advice of police. Public relations vice president Chris Hammond said the bank did not receive any complaints from customers.

Businesses like My Pizza, in Morgan Hill, are almost 100-percent take out based. So when the phone lines went down, so did their business.

At the Round Table Pizza in Morgan Hill, managers decided to let night time staff members go home early because of the lack of business.

At Gilroy Premium Outlets stores couldn't process credit cards.

The Liz Claiborne Outlet Store lost 50-percent of business and those at the Robert Talbott Men's store had to write down customer credit card numbers and process them once their machines started working, at around 7 P.M.

However, the New Balance Factory Store reached its goal yesterday with customers that seemed prepared. They used cash and credit cards, while only five had to leave the store and return the next day to pay for purchases with a credit card.

One Morgan Hill resident said it was difficult for her when she was unable to get telephone updates about her son's out-of-town surgery. Others took the situation in stride.

Reward offered:

AT&T is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of those responsible for the vandalism. Call:

  • 408-277-4161 (San Jose PD)
  • 650--802-4423 (San Carlos PD)
  • 408-947-STOP (Crimestopper)

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