Y’all remember the Suddenlink Slasher, right? This was the bastard (or bastards) who got a kick out of cutting fiber optic lines last year — again and again and again — inconveniencing thousands of customers, disrupting local businesses and costing Suddenlink more than $75,000. The company even went so far as to hire private investigators and offer a $25,000 reward for helping to catch the culprit.

To our knowledge that culprit remains at large, but Assemblyman Wes Chesbro just managed to get a bill passed and signed into law that dramatically jacks up the maximum fine for cable-cutting, from $500 to a whopping $10,000 per occurrence.

(Image source.)

Here’s a press release:

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) that substantially increases the financial penalty for those who intentionally sever or vandalize communications cables or lines that conduct electricity. Under AB 1782, the maximum penalty for these crimes increases from $500 to $10,000 per occurrence.

“The residents of Humboldt County have been the victim of multiple intentional fiber cutting attacks in recent years, causing disruptions of broadband service to thousands of homes and businesses,” Chesbro said. “These acts of intentional vandalism have cost Suddenlink Communications more than $100,000. This figure does not address reduced confidence in the North Coast’s broadband service, the financial impact to local residents and businesses, damage to critical communications infrastructure or the potential impact during an emergency.”

Vandalism to communications cables and infrastructure is on the increase statewide.

“Throughout California, there have been instances of cable nodes being vandalized and backup batteries being stolen, inhibiting the ability to dial 911 in emergency situations,” Chesbro said. “These crimes are not only extremely costly to the provider, but a threat to public safety. AB 1782 brings the penalty for vandalism to communications infrastructure in line with other penalties for vandalism.”

“Rural California is working hard to increase broadband access in order to improve economic development, education, health and safety,” said Connie Stewart, executive director of the California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University, which is a sponsor of AB 1782. “It’s unimaginable to think there are people who would intentionally cause community-wide blackouts. But it happens and AB 1782 will help make sure those who commit these acts are punished appropriately. We appreciate Assemblymember Chesbro for championing this important legislation.”