Contributed by the_highwayman
If he had to do it again, I’m sure he would be more careful. But as a field tech for a major carrier, he was frequently sent out to Central Offices (CO) and after a while the locations blur a bit. In this case, he was dispatched to an unmanned CO in a very rough neighborhood in New York City to do an install. The door was a bit sticky, but he just got down to work. After a little while it dawned on him that the door might not have latched and this might be a bad idea, but when he stood up he found himself face to chest with a very large, very scary street thug holding a pair of cable cutters.
The street thug demanded he turn off the power, and he complied while hitting his silent panic button. The thug clips various cables and took off with some routers, a mux, and all sorts of cables. The tech waited 10 minutes as he was instructed, then flies out to his truck. The truck, which had been loaded with all sorts of gear, was of course emptied and stripped down. Just thankful to be in one piece, he called the police and they came and took his statement.
Just 2 days later his company’s security division called to inform him that the NYPD found most of the gear, and that he needed to accompany them to the location to identify it. He was nearby, so he quickly rolled over to find the police still there along with the huge thief – this time in handcuffs and looking very confused. The thug looks right at him and suddenly asks why the tech was installing all that gear if it didn’t work.
Looking around the room, the tech saw his gear and broke down laughing. The guy had a router and a switch plugged in and on, but somehow he had hooked them up to his stereo system. Another router was hooked up to two large speakers. There were all sorts of cables everywhere, how he managed to jury rig them together is unclear but this guy was quite determined to hook up his new stereo equipment so apparently he found a way! But not all the gear was there, the guy had fenced some of it already and had some very unhappy customers with non-functioning stereo equipment.
When the FBI came to take charge of the guy, the thug couldn’t understand what was going on – after all he had only boosted a few boom boxes, equalizers, amplifiers, and ‘new’ video devices, but of course theft from a central office is a federal crime and the gear he stole was actually worth a whole lot more than some stereo equipment.
So the thug and the tech each learned an important lesson the hard way. The thug learned that if you’re going to steal something, at least steal something you can identify. The tech? Well, he learned to lock the damn door.
Tales from the Field is a recurring segment on this blog, offering a voice to the folks who install the gear, flip the switches, and do all the real work holding the internet together that we don’t hear about in the press. Do you have a story to share? Contact me!
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