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$250,000 Reward Offered In Vandalism Of San Jose AT&T Wires

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Phone service has been restored in the South Bay on Wednesday after being disrupted Tuesday when vandals cut underground fiber optic cables south of San Jose.

AT&T is offering a $250,000 reward in the case, in which someone cut cables in two locations along Monterey Highway shortly before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

The vandalism occurred minutes before someone shot a rifle at a PG&E transmission substation near Metcalf Road and Monterey Highway around 1:46 a.m., according to the sheriff's office.

Around 3:45 a.m., PG&E notified the sheriff's office that someone had breached the substation's security fence, several transformers had been damaged and hazardous liquid had spilled, sheriff's office spokesman Deputy Kurtis Stenderup said.

"The damage was caused by multiple gunshots from a high-powered rifle," Stenderup said.

Matt Naumann, a spokesman for PG&E, said its crews worked to repair the substation Wednesday and are still assessing the extent of the damage.

"It's going to take a couple of weeks before we have everything back up there," Naumann said.

The shooting of the substation, which damaged oil tanks and other equipment, did not halt power to any PG&E customers, Naumann said.

AT&T spokesman George Ross confirmed that the severed cables were fixed by early Wednesday morning.

The Gilroy Police Department's landline phones were down for about 24 hours but were back up and running around 3 a.m., police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza said.

In Morgan Hill, phone service disrupted by the cut cables was restored at 5 a.m., city spokeswoman Maureen Tobin said.

Ross said that 911 calls on cellphone and landline phones to the Gilroy area were disrupted for a couple of hours early Tuesday but that AT&T was able to reroute call lines through different fiber optic cables to reopen emergency calls.

Limited cellphone service in addition to 911 calls remained up for some phone users in Gilroy while landline calls remained shut down until all services were restored between 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Ross said.

"It was affecting cellphone service," Ross said. "It's not like is was across the board down."

"You have different towers where you might be getting reception from your physical proximity," Ross said. "It wasn't unusual, but it was a significant cut."

He confirmed that someone had cut the fiber optic cables, beneath manhole covers, in two different places in the unincorporated area south of San Jose, one of them a line maintained by AT&T and the other by another phone carrier.

Service to Verizon customers was restored by 6 a.m., Stenderup said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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