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Published July 3rd, 2024
Canyon's phone service restored as Moraga gets hit
Maryann Hardwicke of Canyon holds her "spaghetti" nest that didn't route phone or Internet service for 12 days. The rest of the community suffered, too. "It was terrible," she said. Photo Chris Lavin

After more than a week without landlines, AT&T has restored service to more than 100 residents of Canyon. Thieves had cut and stolen about 500 feet of telephone cable along Canyon Road near Moraga, presumably to sell the copper within it.
The most recent cutting and theft of phone line occurred near the intersection of Moraga Road and Corliss Drives in the early hours of June 28.
"It's an epidemic," said Jonathan Goodwin, who has lived in Canyon for 32 years.
"Theft and vandalism of critical communications infrastructure are serious matters that disrupt essential services for our customers, public safety and the community at large," AT&T said by email. "We're actively working with local law enforcement as they investigate to find those responsible."
AT&T is trying to find the culprits. The company is offering a reward of $10,000 for specific and detailed information that leads to arrest and conviction for copper cable thefts or the attempted sale or purchase of stolen copper cable in Contra Costa County. Tipsters with information can remain anonymous and should call local law enforcement or AT&T Asset Protection Hotline Group at (800) 807-4205.
Remote areas - and sometimes not-so-remote, like Orinda - have been experiencing phone wire thefts of great magnitude. The Lamorinda area has joined the ranks of Pinole and Hercules, which also experienced loss of wire, and therefore telephone and DSL (direct service line) service, in June. While most suburban communities are sometimes able to reroute 911 calls, Canyon is too isolated for such an option.
"If this had occurred during fire weather," Goodwin said. "We would be out of luck." Many would be unable to call neighbors or alert the community in case of any emergency. "It was terrible for me," Goodwin said. "It was 12 days!"
Similar to the trend of catalytic converter theft, Canyon was hit by thieves likely trying to sell the copper wire from the phone lines. Recycling centers will buy whole phone lines and strip them for the copper within, which sells for about $3.25 per pound. Canyon's phone lines are believed to have been taken by vandals climbing up redwood trees to cut the lines, which were then cut into 6-foot sections.
Phone service has long been tricky in Canyon, where even today wireless internet service can be sketchy. In many parts of the unincorporated community, only AT&T has worked. Many residents rely only on landlines for communication and internet service through DSL. Even many Canyonites who have cell phones couldn't rely on them for backup.
Longtime resident Erik Olafsson cannot get cell reception in his house, so the 12 days without proved a problem. He had to go out his front door and climb a 150-foot hill to get reception, and has longtime friends he talks with almost daily.
"It was a lot of trips up that hill," he said.

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