Vandalism blamed for outage with Tombigbee Fiber customers

Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley encourages anyone with information on the crime to come forward

LEE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – Vandalism is being blamed for an outage affecting thousands of customers of Tombigbee Fiber.

Although the issue was fixed the same day, the search is now on for those responsible.

The outage was first reported Tuesday morning and was caused by vandalism. Tombigbee Fiber CEO Scott Hendrix said someone cut through these cables on County Road 1310.

“Our estimate was about 3,000 customers affected. There was some evidence of use of a Sawzall type saw on the pole, right at the height fiber had been cut,” Hendrix said.

Crews quickly got to work, repairing the damage done by the vandals. Hendrix said it appeared the vandals had some knowledge of high-speed internet fiber lines.

“I wouldn’t use a Sawzall-type saw on an electric line, you risk severe electric shock. I believe somebody knew it was a communication line, as to the height it was in reach, it was attainable and reachable. They were using a piece of equipment readily available, but not commonly owned,” Hendrix said.

In recent years, vandalism targeting electric substations and high-speed internet lines has been reported across the country.

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said the damage done by the vandals causes disruptions in people’s lives. He said public vigilance is the best way to deter would-be vandals.

“You don’t know, when somebody does this somebody could be doing a telehealth visit with their doctor, in the middle of class, online, and so this the type of stuff we are not going to tolerate, if you see something, call. If it’s not a contractor vehicle or marked by your internet provider, if you see somebody climbing up a pole, they have no business being there anyway,” Presley said.

The case has been turned over to the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Jim Johnson said those responsible will face felony charges.

All customers affected had their high-speed fiber restored by 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

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