Post-Storm Looters Hit Comcast in Miami


Comcast Corp. in Miami found over the weekend that Hurricane Katrina brought more than high winds and flood waters to damage the system -- it attracted crooks in its wake, too.

The system has experienced equipment theft before, with thieves taking analog equipment that investigators believe is exported to the Southern Hemisphere. But just hours after the Category 1 storm passed through Miami-Dade County, thieves hit the plant, stealing up to nine nodes.

"It just proves there's a bad element out there, even after a storm like this," said Filemon Lopez, senior vice president of Comcast's Florida region.

Comcast has been able to restore service to 90% of its regional customers by Monday, just three days after the storm hit. Restoration to the rest is hampered by lack of access and power, he said.

Comcast is working with law enforcement to track the thieves of the bulky nodes, which can be as big as a washer and dryer sitting side by side, but given the regional crisis, it is a low priority for authorities.