Over the past few months, TDS Telecom in Leslie County has seen a spike in the number of customer complaints. The complaints had nothing to do with severe weather.
"It takes out the entire community’s telephone service. They have no dial tone. They're isolated to the outside world," said TDS Telecom Manager Jimmy Whitaker.
Leslie County has experienced outages before, but mostly bad weather was the culprit. Now there's a different reason. Vandals are climbing telephone poles, in some cases risking their lives, and causing random power outages in Leslie County just to steal the copper inside the lines. The last incident reported by TDS happened in broad daylight, July 4th.
TDS Telecom filed a report with police and an investigation is still ongoing.
"If anyone out there in the community would, could see anything unusual, unusual vehicles, or men working around out poles, telephone poles, power poles, report it," Whitaker said.
Vandalism to a telecommunications facility is a federal offense. TDS Telecom officials report a fourteen thousand dollar loss due to the vandalism.