LEMONT FURNACE (KDKA) — Phone service went out in Lemont Furnace and Verizon believes saboteurs were possibly behind it.

The phones went out because someone got into a locked underground vault with a key and turned off the breakers.

There also was a case of sabotage in Carnegie. Someone used a key to open a box and unscrewed a cable which doesn’t occur naturally.

The damage may be aimed at Verizon the company, but the potential for harm is far-reaching.

“This is of grave concern to Verizon because for many people – especially elderly – they rely on their phones as a lifeline,” Lee Gierczynski, a Verizon spokesman, said. “And if they don’t have their phone service, they may not be able to make emergency calls.”

Striking workers say vandalism is not something that’s encouraged.

“Our position is we have not had this reported to us and also we don’t condone any illegal activities,” Tammy Hunter, a union worker, said.

Verizon is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information that leads to the arrest of some of these vandalism suspects.

State police in Uniontown say the people responsible for the phone outage will be charged with felony criminal mischief.

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