Updated: Wire thieves cause major cable outage in Langley

Thousands lose television, internet and telephone service

Working in a Shaw service van

Working in a Shaw service van

Service to thousands of Shaw cable, internet and phone customers in Langley was disrupted when wire thieves cut a major cable line running through a heavily-wooded mini-park near the intersection of Eastleigh Cr. and 56 Avenue.

Shaw said the “backbone” cable was severed around 7 a.m. Sunday morning.

The company estimated 20,000 homes lost cable, 14,000 lost internet service and 8,000 lost telephone service.

Service was affected in an area that stretched from Langley City to Aldergrove.

“This is one of the worst ones we’ve seen,” Shaw operations vice-president Chris Kucharski told the Times.

Repair crews had to spend their first four hours trimming the trees to get at the damaged cable, Kucharski said.

“It’s very, very bushy.”

Shaw crews worked overnight on splicing the severed fibre optic line back together.

By Monday afternoon, service had been restored to about half the affected customers and the remainder was expected to be back online by dinner time, Shaw said.

It appeared that would-be metal thieves looking for copper wire cut the thick glass fibre line, then fled without taking it when they realized there was no metal.

Some Shaw customers complained the company was less than forthcoming about the outage.

Most people can understand that accidents happen but Shaw’s handling of this mess has been nothing short of deplorable,” Jordan Carlin wrote on Shaw’s Facebook page.

“The initial phone update was a weak attempt at patronization and the one 10 hours later was so vague it was insulting.”

Another customer complained their cell phone would exhaust its battery waiting to get through to customer service.

Wire theft is on the increase locally, driven by rising international metal prices that have hiked domestic rates.

The City of Langley is recently estimated it will spend as much as $150,000 repairing vandalized wires, 10 to 11 times what was budgeted.