February 28, 2023
Philadelphia police are searching for a man who vandalized several of Comcast's fiber-optic data lines hours before Super Bowl LVII, causing a widespread service outage in Fishtown and Kensington that continued beyond the start of the Eagles-Chiefs game for some customers.
On Tuesday, police released surveillance video showing the man suspected of cutting the Xfinity lines on the afternoon of Feb. 12.
Officers had responded to the 2700 block of Tulip Street around 4:45 p.m. for a report of vandalism. An Xfinity employee at the scene told police that Comcast customers had been complaining of outages ahead of the Super Bowl. The company discovered five fiber-optic lines had been cut, resulting in disruptions to the service of approximately 17,000 customers, police said.
The estimated damage to Comcast's equipment totaled about $10,000, investigators said.
The video released Tuesday shows the suspect parking a white, 4-door Ford pickup truck on Tulip Street near the intersection with Lehigh Avenue. The man is initially seen walking around the area of an overpass. He's then shown getting into the truck's bed and shuffling through a black bag. Finally in the video, the man returns to his truck, carrying an unknown object. He seems to smile and gesture toward a person outside the view of the surveillance camera before leaving in the truck.
At the time it happened, many Comcast customers who lost their service shared their frustrations on social media, including some who said that the outages started earlier in the day around 1 p.m.
A Comcast spokesperson said most Fistown and Kensington customers had service restored before kickoff and the rest were back up and running within a few minutes after the game started around 7 p.m.
"We responded immediately and worked for hours to restore services," the Comcast spokesperson said.
Authorities did not provide any additional details about the suspect. Anyone with information can contact the police department's East Detective Division at (215) 686-3243, call or text the department's tip line at 215-686-TIPS (8477) or submit tip online. All information can be provided anonymously.