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CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- It's a fairly uncommon crime in the corridor, but police and cable providers say it doesn't mean they let their guard down when it comes to cable thieves.
When someone steals cable, it actually impacts the quality or it can impact the quality of the services their neighbors are getting, said Michelle Harper with Mediacom.
Harper with says stealing a connection introduces noise into the system, slowing it down.
Whether it's the data going down to your computer, or it could be the qualities of the movies you're watching, Harper said.
So what happens if you're caught stealing cable? Some companies don't immediately throw the book at you. At Mediacom, for example, it's three strikes and you're out.
Strike one, according to Harper:
They simply disconnect the cable, and they hang a door tag because it's quite possible that it's a completely innocent mistake.
After the first strike, that residence is flagged. If the cable doesn't remain disconnected, in comes strike two, this time with another disconnection and a stern letter laying out the rules.
On strike 3 the police department gets involved, usually with two options.
We can take a report, they can get charged, or they can work it out with Mediacom and make payment, said Sgt. Cristy Hamblin with the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
Harper says it almost never gets to strike 3. We asked her if there was any particular reason why.
Other than good old, nice, law abiding Iowans, no.
Police say on that third strike, you can be charged with anything from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the value of the stolen cable. Both Hamblin and Harper say theyve only seen a handful of instances of cable theft in the past few years.