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Vandalism Cuts Spectrum Cable TV, Phone, Internet Service To Customers In Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If you watched this story on the CBS2 News at 11 Monday night, there is a good chance you were not in Queens.

As CBS2's Ali Bauman reported, the thousands of residents were left without cable, internet or phone service beginning early Monday morning, and authorities blamed vandals for cutting Spectrum cable wires.

Some of these 60,000 Spectrum customers without service Tuesday night had been through it before. Back in April, vandals cut off cable for nearly 30,000 customers.

In the earlier incident, sources said vandals targeted a Spectrum fiber optic cable early on Thursday, April 27 on Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens. The vandalism affected 30,000 cable subscribers and caused $12,000 in damage, sources said.

A fiber optic cable was also damaged at Beach 94th Street and Beach Channel Drive below the Cross Bay Bridge around the same tie, resulting in several thousand dollars in damage.

But why would anyone want to cut cable wires? Police sources told CBS2 it appears to be sabotage -- by people on the inside.

On Monday night, Jason Diaz was having dinner at his local bar in Forest Hills, since their TVs were working and his Spectrum cable was out.

"They were out everywhere and they're still out!" Diaz said.

And his day without cable, internet or phone service wasn't just boring – it was costing him business.

"I do a lot of stuff at home for work, email back and forth with clients," Diaz said. "and now I can't do that, so drinking is the next best option."

He is not the only one. "Cash only" signs are posted along bars and restaurants in the area, as the outage also took out their credit card machines.

"A few people actually left because they only wanted to use cards, so we did have to turn down a few customers," said restaurant manager Samantha Phe.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said via Twitter that the outage which began at 2 a.m. was being investigated as vandalism.

And it has not been easy going back to the old days.

"Well, not having the phone, because I'm not very good with the cellphone," said Linda Knoble.

Contractors spent more than 16 hours trying to fix torn fibers. They told CBS2 whoever did it knew exactly what to do, as the wires are under heavy metal doors and are so thick that only tools can cut them.

Police sources link it back to Spectrum technicians, who have been on strike for months.

"We would never condone that," said on-strike Spectrum technician Ray Reyes. "We would never do that."

But some customers are not buying it, and said they do not want to be in the middle of a labor dispute.

"I think that's a little unfair to the community," Phe said. "Say if your company isn't doing well for you, you're trying to punish someone else who didn't do anything to you."

Spectrum cable has tweeted out they are working on the issue and hope to have full service restored by the end of Monday night.

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