Cox Looks to Secure Signals

Cox Communications Arizona contracted with an outside security firm to help the division combat cable-signal theft.

According to Ivan Johnson, vice president of community relations and television for the Cox division, the unit loses an estimated $6 million per year due to theft of cable programming.

The outside firm, Secure Signals International of Denver, will pursue prosecution under federal law of people who steal cable. Arizona state law treats cable theft as a misdemeanor, but federal law has stronger potential penalties.

In the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984, the law calls for a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail for a person found to willingly receive cable products for which they have not paid. The fine can escalate to $10,000.

An offender found guilty of selling items to enable cable theft can face a penalty of $50,000 and up to two years in jail upon first offense.

The anti-theft effort will pursue both individuals who steal analog cable and those who pirate digital signals, usually with the use of filters attached to converters that prevent the return of billing data from the home to the video provider. Such filters are deauthorized when the provider refreshes security codes, but by then, a thief my have accessed all premium and pay-per-view offerings.

Secure Signals provides anti-theft and other risk-management services to providers throughout the cable industry.