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Cracking down on cable TV theft

Cable companies say one in 10 of us finds a way to get pay TV, for free. That costs the companies lots of money, but it also can affect the quality of everyone else's cable service.

News on 6 reporter Rick Wells went along with Cox Communications top cop to see how they sniff out the cheaters.

David Jatton is Cox Communications Loss Prevention Manager for Oklahoma; he's like the top cable cop.

A device in his truck is a CLI meter; it sniffs out leaks in the cable system. "A tool to identify unbilled unauthorized connections." That the nice way of saying it helps find cable thieves. Here’s how it works, when there's a loose connection or an illegal one some of the signal leaks out, like water from a leaky pipe.

The sniffer detects it and allows the cable cops to find it and they do it all the time. Most people are paying for the service they get but experts say about one in ten cable watchers is stealing the service. "In Oklahoma our unbilled connection rate or theft rate is about 8 percent so we're below the national standard." But it still amounts to maybe 40,000 people, when they find them they try to turn them into paying customers.

"You get disconnected your first occurrence and we leave literature." It will tell them what they're doing is illegal and could result in fines or even jail time and gives them a chance to sign up.

Jatton and his staff of auditors survey neighborhoods regularly, notorious neighborhood get looked at more often. The good news is when they catch you stealing service you'll probably get a warning, initially. The bad news is they're out there looking all the time.

The cable cops tell the News on 6 an illegal cable hookup can result in weaker cable signals and even slower Internet service for nearby customers.

If you know of anyone stealing service, you can report them anonymously on the Cox web site.
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