‘Senseless act of vandalism’ blamed for weekend internet outage: NWT RCMP

Mounties believe criminality was involved - but investigation continues

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After Northwestel confirmed over the weekend that RCMP were investigating damage to fibre infrastructure, which caused widespread internet outages throughout the city on Saturday, police are saying the act was “criminal.”

“Police believe the criminal act occurred on July 13, 2019, between the hours 7 p.m. and 7:45 a.m., near Highway 3 between Yellowknife and Behchoko,” states a news release issued by Mounties Tuesday afternoon.

The outages, which affected Yellowknife, Whati and Behchoko – disrupting long distance phone service, cellphone messaging, landline use and internet services – proved to be untimely.

The outages coincided with Folk on the Rocks, and with an influx of festival-goers in town, many businesses were forced to offer cash-only services as debit and card systems were unavailable.

Northwestel was able to restore the services by Saturday evening.

“We take threats to our critical infrastructure very seriously,” stated Sgt. Dean Riou of the NWT RCMP.

“This senseless vandalism had far-reaching implications which affected the safety and comfort of the majority of NWT residents. It is in everyone’s best interest to provide any information which could lead to police identifying the person or persons responsible,” stated Riou, adding “We encourage anyone with information to come forward to your local police, or call Crime Stoppers if you wish to remain anonymous.”

Despite RCMP’s belief that “vandalism” and criminality played a role in the outages, police have not yet indicated why they believe the incident is criminal is nature, and the investigation remains active.

Anyone with information related to this “suspicious activity” is asked to call Yellowknife RCMP at 669-1111, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 nwtnutips.com, (click on “submit a web tip”) or text: “nwtnutips” plus your message to 274637.

More to come.

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.