Vandals have hit downtown Altoona businesses, cutting phone, alarm and cable lines along 11th Avenue and causing a few headaches for business owners.
"If people can't call you, you can't do much," said Dr. Fred Petrunak of Mountain View Eye Associates, 1418 11th Ave., where unknown vandals ripped multiple phone lines from a metal box behind the building as well as snipped the main wires nearby in two places, including on the roof.
Altoona police are investigating, Lt. Jeffrey Pratt said Tuesday.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Dr. Fred Petrunak of Mountain View Eye Associates shows where utility wires were cut and electrical panels were opened behind his office on Tuesday.
Petrunak said his office had people not showing up for appointments, something he said was likely a result of no one being able to call.
By Monday afternoon, calls were set up to forward to cellphones so the office could keep a line of communication open to patients, patients that sometimes are calling with eye emergencies that can't wait.
"You get a piece of something in your eye and you can't get a hold of us," said Petrunak, who said regular phone service was restored by late Tuesday morning.
Petrunak said he can't fathom why anyone would go to the trouble of cutting the lines when it didn't appear as if any businesses on the block were burglarized.
Just down the block and across the street, at Saleme Insurance, video surveillance caught what owner Barry D'Andrea described as "kids" cutting the Atlantic Broadband cable that powers the business' phones and Internet at about 8:15 p.m. Sunday.
"We were effectively out of business for 3 1/2 hours," said D'Andrea, who said the cable company responded quickly and the tricky part was trying to figure out what was wrong. "It felt like all day."
After talking to the owners of several businesses across the street who were also hit, D'Andrea said, he realized what had happened.
D'Andrea said he turned the surveillance footage over to Altoona police Tuesday and hopes those responsible are caught.
"They just don't realize the impact when they do this sort of thing," D'Andrea said.
Across the street from Saleme Insurance, Michelle Pierson of Power Shears hair salon said her phone lines were cut last week, the evening of July 18, and it wasn't discovered until 10:30 a.m. the next day when she tried to process a credit card.
"There were a lot of people who tried to call and were worried so they came down," Pierson said.
Next door to her salon, at Darlene's Kids Shop, Bud and Darlene Musselman said their alarm went down at about 8:30 p.m. July 18 and Verizon got service back for the business the next morning.
"It looked like spaghetti," said Darlene Musselman, of the wires yanked from the phone box behind the building.
Other businesses in the area were also hit, Darlene Musselman said.