Um, Comcast, Could You Maybe Not Randomly Dig Up My Property Without Asking?

Reader Kyle, like so many of us, would rather Comcast not dig up his property without asking, especially when they are a) running cable for his neighbor b) mysteriously avoiding an area near the curb where they could have run the cable without disturbing his yard. To add insult to (landscaping) injury, when he asked the Comcast workers to stop digging they refused, and when he called Comcast to ask them to tell the workers to stop, they also refused, then hung up on him.

Kyle says:

I’m in the basement playing video games and my wife calls down to me, telling me that there are two guys digging in our front yard. I run up stairs to check it out, and they tell me that they’re running cable to my neighbor’s house. I would have no problem with this, except that they were running the line through my yard, and not through the other patch of grass near the curb where they should have been running it. I spoke to one of them and asked why they didn’t ask me if they could dig on my property, and he gave me some noise about needing to run it over here because of the line signal. I told him to stop digging for a few minutes while I spoke with someone at Comcast.

I call the local number, navigate the tree and finally get in touch with a human being. For the first time in probably 3 years, I did not confirm the woman’s name before continuing. I explained the situation and she tells me that she can’t do anything about it. I ask to be put in touch with someone who can do something about it. She asks me for either my phone number or my account number, both of which I decline to provide. She continues saying that she’s trying to help me, I inform her that she does not need my phone number to transfer me to someone who can help me. She asks if I’m a Comcast customer, I say yes, but also tell her that it doesn’t matter; if I was a Dish customer, they still wouldn’t be able to dig in my yard.

At this point she starts trying to talk over me, and I raise my voice to drown her attempts to talk over me. Then she hangs up on me. I’m researching DirecTV and Dish as we speak.

We asked Comcast for their official lawn digging policy, but our email went unanswered at the time of this post. Kyle says that the Comcast workers did a good job covering up where they were digging, but he’s “just irritated that two Comcast techs took it upon themselves to start digging on private property when there is an area near the curb that they could have used that isn’t my property.” He also adds: “The real test will come in next several days, seeing if any of that grass ends up dying.”

Since we don’t know Comcast’s official policy about digging up your lawn, we’ll just refer our readers to their official coffee making policy. It is totally irrelevant, but quite comprehensive.

Kyle sends an update:

Comcast has an easement on the property on the other side of the sidewalk, a strip of grass roughly 3 feet wide directly next to the curb. This same strip of grass is where the box is located, in front of my other neighbor’s house.

Had they used this area (and this area only) I would have had no problem. Instead, they also used a part of my yard, which is not fenced. There is no easement on my property, aside from that “communal” strip of grass.

Comcast has written us back and will be investigating the issue further, but in the meantime, Frank, Comcast’s Twitter-jockey, says:

“The rules and policies regarding utility easements vary by municipality guidelines. It is always our goal to do any type of digging in the least intrusive manner possible. “

Frank from Comcast sends another update. He says that Comcast was within its legal rights to dig up Kyle’s lawn, but admits that it could have been handled better. (Like, by not hanging up on him.)

As a quick follow up regarding this situation. The place where work was being done was in the utility easement for [redacted], which is 12 feet from the curb. We are working with the Customer to learn more of his experience and improve it for others. But ultimately we could have done a better job of explaining what we were doing and what an easement is.

Yay, communication.

(Photo: u2acro )

Comments

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  1. angryhippo says:

    Hrm… Destruction of property..?

  2. NightSteel says:

    If someone is digging up your property without permission, summon law enforcement. Comcast, especially, is not going to care until you make them care.

  3. thomanjones says:

    I would call the cops. Trespassing is illegal, no? Or is there an exception for utilities/cable providers?

  4. snoop-blog says:

    I go dig it back up. But I’m a dick like that.

  5. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    My solution? Fences & pit-bulls. Lots of pit-bulls.

    People don’t come into my yard unless I let them in.

  6. Jeez, they come out to give a ditch for free and you get angry? Talk about ungrateful. I wonder if the police would come out if you called them about it while they were still digging.

  7. henrygates says:

    Trespassing and vandalism is against the law, last I checked, even for multibillion dollar monopoly corporations I’m sure. OP should have called the police, instead of Comcast, and then grabbed a shovel and defended his property.

  8. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    @snoop-blog: You, sir, are not a dick. I’d rent a ditchwitch, and then pour bags of dry cement in the trench prior to covering it back up.
    No right of way nor variance, no diggy!

  9. henrygates says:

    snoop, brilliant! Actually dig it up behind them as they work. That would have been just brilliant.

  10. edebaby says:

    Get out the shovel, Mildred, I got a hankerin to do some diggin…

  11. What The Geek says:

    @henrygates: Beat me to it – if a comcast employee (or anyone else for that matter) won’t leave your property, and insists on vandalizing it, call the cops.

  12. raremoth says:

    I would just repeatedly have a dog dig down and chew up the newly placed cable. The techs will get tired of having to come out and fix it. You don’t even have to actually damage the cable, just keep calling Comcast and reporting that the previous damage that the techs caused has come back. You don’t even need a dog…

  13. xmarkd400x says:

    Shoulda called the cops!

    What they were doing is illegal.

  14. knyghtryda says:

    Call the cops, and then get pictures, plate numbers, names of the workers if possible etc. Even if the cops don’t get there in time, you’ll have enough evidence to at the very least make a ruckus and hopefully get some sort of apology from Comcast.

  15. I would have called the local police and informed then that two people, who are NOT public servants, were digging up my lawn and have refused to vacate my property. I wonder how Comcast would have dealt with that?

  16. iMike says:

    If Comcast enjoys the use of an easement, there’s not much one can do to prevent it from digging.

    That said, I’d probably make them prove they’ve got an easement before letting them dig. Quick call to the cops for criminal damaging should stop the digging until such proof is offered.

  17. cmdrsass says:

    get out a shovel and some hedge clippers and disable that cable pronto.

    Also, check to see if your locale has a DigSafe law that requires contractors to contact DigSafe for approval prior to excavation. That’s a bigger offense than trespassing.

  18. parklyj says:

    Snoop has a great idea to just dig it up, however I would take it one step further. I’d dig it up, but do it as part of a “landscaping project” that you are thinking about doing in that area. That way you have a legitimate reason to dig that area up and “accidentally” snipping the cable (in three or four places).

    And when Comcast comes back out to try and run cable through your yard, inform them that they are trespassing, and any further attempt to dig in your yard will result in the authorities being called.

  19. chatturux says:

    I wouldn’t go through the trouble of digging it all back up, I’d just make sure the line got cut somewhere along the run.

  20. synimatik says:

    In some states this guy would be within his rights to shoot at trespassers. That’d be a hell of a day at work, eh?

  21. SkokieGuy says:

    I call shenanigans. The OP claims that he called Comcast and reached a live human being.

  22. Quatre707 says:

    You should have called the police the very moment the Comcast techs said no to your request to stop digging on your property.

  23. stevegoz says:

    I just let them know that there’s a permit fee to dig on my property: one year of all the movie channels for free.

  24. MikeB says:

    I had to have a new line dropped as a result of a weak signal. The post/trunk/whatever it is called is in my backyard neighbors yard. The Time Warner tech went to the neighbors house and asked permission to enter her yard and to dig, only a short distance, in her yard.

  25. MayorBee says:

    Why not lie down on the lawn in front of them? Just be sure not to pop off to the pub for a pint or two. Those bastards would just start up again even if they promised not to.

  26. What The Geek says:

    @SkokieGuy: heh, nah, he probably just called and said “Verizon” and “Fios” in response to every question asked by the automated system

  27. CherkyB says:

    As iMike noted above, if there is a utility easement on your property (as there is on almost all residential property), you have no choice. Fastest way to check -> pull out the copy of your title that you got when you bought the house. It will list easements and locations of them.

  28. dorastandpipe says:

    The problem with cutting the line is that they will fine you! Remember the DigSafe law? I would have contacted the police.

  29. coan_net says:

    1. Ask them to leave your property.

    2. If they refused, call cops.

  30. cf27 says:

    In many incorporated areas, there is a utility right of way on the street-facing portion of property. Basically, this allows utilities to access their lines under & over the property, install new lines and maintain those lines, without having to get permission of the property owner. They have to avoid damaging the lawn & other property when they do so. In addition, municipalities often have rules about what can be placed on the right of way by the homeowner. So, you may not be able to place your reflecting pool over the right of way.

  31. roarnglion says:

    Comcast had every right to do what they did (minus the extremely bad customer service). Its called the utility right of way.

  32. nequam says:

    Sorry folks, but chances are Comcast has the right to do this. Utility easements tend to be fairly broad. They certainly don’t need the owner’s permission. Calling the cops is no recourse.

    What surprises me is that so few property owners understand that these easements exist.

  33. Angryrider says:

    Call comcast? Call the POLICE!!!!

  34. officeboy says:

    Most people don’t know this but a good section of “their” front yard is the City’s/Counties property/easement. Roads tend to be measured as 20, 30, 40 feet wide from center line. While actual roads a lot of time are 1/2 this. At my house the road easement is a good 15 feet past the curb. So all that grass I mow, not my property. You can usually spot the edge of this easement by the location of things like phone or cable pedestals, power vaults, or water meters.

  35. Pylon83 says:

    Comcast almost certainly has access to the easement over the property. They don’t need permission from anyone to use the easement for the purposes for which it was granted (running utility lines, etc.). Comcast was completely in the right here, and the OP was wrong to demand that they stop. As a property owner, he should understand their right to access his property as part of the easement on the deed. So long as they fix any “damage” that they do, Comcast was 100% right here. Now, there are better ways to go about it, like asking permission, but what if the person says no? They still have the right to do it notwithstanding the owners non-consent.

  36. Nytmare says:

    I had some utility contract workers digging up my lawn completely making a mess. When I asked what they were doing, they said “digging for worms”. I’m still not sure who they were or what they were doing; they might have been replacing some underground electrical lines. I don’t want to stop them if their work was necessary, but a straight answer would have been nice when they’re imposing on my property.

  37. KeilwerthLA says:

    He was a lot nicer/patient than I would be. I would have walked out and ordered them to stop while I called the police.

    Comcast didn’t have the courtesy to call you, you don’t need to call them.

  38. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Me: Hi boys what are you up too?
    Comcast: We are running a cable line.
    Me: Why are you going through my lawn?
    Comcast: Because we are COMCAST as we do as we f’ing please!
    Me: Well I hope you got a locate done first cause the gas line is real close to the surface here.
    …or…
    Me: Well don’t mind the sprinklers…(swish.d.d.d.d.d.swish…)
    …or…
    Me: Keep an eye on my dog OK! He doesn’t like people in his space. Sit Ubu sit.

  39. Guges says:

    It’s called utility easement. They have the right to dig in your yard or gain access to utility services without asking permission. The basic guideline for Cable and Phone is whichever path the power company took should be followed if at all possible. In the case of Aerial spans if power is to low to follow or cuts across a yard in what would be considered “Aerial Trespassing” then mid-span drops following property lines must be followed. Usually they will try and follow property lines if possible whether it’s aerial or underground. Something most people don’t know is you are not supposed to plant anything within 3-4 feet of a utility access box or pole. The utility companies will usually pay for damages if they occur to said shrubs but there are not legally obligated to do so. Yes, I did work for Comcast once upon a time.

  40. LSonnenhimmer says:

    whatever happened to that consumerist lawyer to see if it really is illegal (its not)…..wait we are bashing Comcast, lets post it anyway………no need to check the facts.

  41. eismcsquare2 says:

    Your township/municipality should have a cable television commission which directs the way a (‘the’) cable company operates in the area and should have defined rules and guidelines for constructions.

    Google it or contact your official complaint officer appointed by your commission.

  42. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    OMG I just realized this guy actually got an accurate answer immediately from a Comcast employee… on the first try!

    There is hope for all the cable companies… I can feel it.

  43. PunditGuy says:

    @MayorBee is Haulin’ Ass…Gettin’ Paid: Comcast’s digging policy is on display, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory, with a sign on the door saying, “Beware of the Leopard.”

  44. ung says:

    When a utility (like Comcast) gets a license to provide service in your city they get certain rights-of-way and easements. If they are digging within those areas there isn’t anything you can do about it. So you need to understand the particular rules set up in your town. I would bet that if the OP looked closely at his deed he would find his yard is legally defined in a way that doesn’t match his internal notion of what his yard is. That being said a company that gave a shit about customers would inform you about what is was going to do and have the paperwork that described the right-of-way handy so there was no mis-understanding. I say all of this after Comcast bozos came an cut through my fios because they didn’t follow the required PA rules to get underground services marked before digging.

  45. AI says:

    @Pylon83
    If they have the rights to use an easement, then they should have the paperwork with them proving it.

  46. FLConsumer says:

    Call the cops & cut their cable. Utilities are allowed easements, but these usually are near the road, *NOT* in the middle of the lawn.

  47. kbarrett says:

    @Pylon83: That depends on your title. Which is a good reason to have a copy of all of the paper on your property in the county clerk’s office.

    You should make a point of knowing what easements are on your property.

    Often, the utilities must be run on the road right of way, and any new easements that are needed must be paid for, after condemnation.

    Not every home is a part of a development.

  48. hopson77 says:

    I’m the OP. Comcast has an easement on the property on the other side of the sidewalk, a strip of grass roughly 3 feet wide directly next to the curb. This same strip of grass is where the box is located, in front of my other neighbor’s house.

    Had they used this area (and this area only) I would have had no problem. Instead, they also used a part of my yard, which is not fenced. There is no easement on my property, aside from that “communal” strip of grass.

  49. GMFish says:

    I’m agreeing with others here. First, call the cops. Second, that cable would mysteriously be cut every day or so.

  50. RabbitDinner says:

    same as when people park in your driveway for a neighbor’s party-sprinklers

  51. MayorBee says:

    @PunditGuy: Awesome. I was waiting for it. Now then, where’s my towel?

  52. mikesfree says:

    [az-goodyear.civicplus.com]

    there is some good easement information there

  53. jtheletter says:

    @Pylon83: Easement access is only legal where there’s an easement. At the very least the techs should have some proof that there is an easement where they are digging. And as other have said, easement or no, it’s possibly a violation of DigSafe to dig w/o a locate first. Hard to say if either of these apply in this case, not enough information. But it’s not cut-and-dry that Comcast was in the right.

  54. Stormslanding says:

    The property owner needs to find out if he has any deed restrictions or easements on his property. Any utility company has the right to run anything they please through your yard as long as they leave it the way they found it IF there is a easement restriction. Most subdivisions have these clauses put on the deed when the property is bought to prevent situations like this from happening when public utilities are brought in. The most common use is for public water/sewer access in neighborhoods. You always get that one dickhead who spouts off about his constitutional rights and this is his property and no one has the right to dig on it.

    Sorry, bro. Blame the dickheads that force these to be added to property deeds.

  55. renilyn says:

    @iMike: iMike, you’re exactly right, they do enjoy such things. And if your property is in the line of sight for running the line to your neighbor or any other entity, it’s too bad for you.

    As for the rest of the “they should inform you if they are going to do…”. Yes, any nice company would do that. But it is not, in fact, a requirement when digging in an easement. In fact, if I read right, the customer is talking about them digging on the piece of property between the sidewalk & the road. I have never lived in an area where that portion of your property wasn’t easement.

    @ung: I know what you mean
    .. but please know that the underground locators usually get a wage close to or less than, what your local fast food joint pays their employees. Bottom line… they don’t give a shit.

  56. jackspat2 says:

    WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL THE POLICE?! I think I might come over tonight to dig up your yard since I know you’re not going to do anything about it.

  57. savvy999 says:

    I would have watered them down with a garden hose. That’s what I do to my neighbor’s cat, that loves to sleep on top of my car.

  58. Haltingpoint says:

    Dig where the line was placed, cut it in that location, and try to catch them in the act again. If you do, IMMEDIATELY call the cops and mention that tell them what JamieSueAustin mentions several comments up–that should get them down there pronto. They key being that you don’t mention on the phone that they are Comcast employees.

    Take photos, or video if you feel like it, to document their refusal. If the cop asks why you dug up their line and cut it, tell him that they placed it there without your permission and you attempted to remove it from your property as it “was damaging your lawn.”

    The key is to build a great paper trail in case you want to take them to small claims court to repay whatever damages there may be to your lawn.

  59. Pylon83 says:

    @Stormslanding:
    Can you imagine how impossible it would be to run ANY sort of public utility lines if the easement system was not in place? Don’t get me wrong, I am a staunch advocate of property rights, but easements are necessary to ensure that the one jerk doesn’t prevent half the neighborhood from getting utility access.

    @jtheletter:
    Notice that I said there is “likely” an easement that they were working within. Further, we don’t know that they didn’t do a locate. There is no mention of it in the OP’s story. Moreover, that’s entirely irrelevant to whether or not the OP had the right to make them stop.

  60. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    @GMFish:
    Who do you really punish with the cable cutting? Your neighbor and not Comcast.
    Punish Comcast by getting media services from the competition. Then contact your city planning office and find out what demands you can make of folks running their shit through your property and what your responsibilities are for not interfering with it.

  61. snoop-blog says:

    Hell are we talking fiberoptic lines or copper? If they are copper lines than that’s an extra incentive to dig them back up and cash in!

  62. MisterTerry says:

    As others have said, it is usually the case that the property owner does not realize the extent of right of way and other easements that may be on their property.

    Working for a local jurisdiction in the Community Development agency, I can almost guarantee that most do not understand that a good 13-15 feet on either side of the paved roadway is still right of way, and therefore, not their property. Also, many are suprised to find that their lots are sometimes covered in easements of various sorts that encumber their property and allow local utilities, etc. to place equipment and otherwise do work on the property.

    PLEASE: Everyone obtain an updated survey and a copy of their subdivision plat before purchasing real estate.

    Also, the subdivision plat exists even if you dont live in a “subdivision.” This document simply exists to show the act of subdivision when your property was part of farmer john’s 100+ acres and subsequently split into lots. You may not have a sign at the end of your road, put you live in a recorded subdivision.

  63. Pylon83 says:

    @Haltingpoint:
    Cutting the line would be a very bad idea. Aside from possible criminal charges for damaging Comcast’s property that they probably placed there legally, Comcast would be well within their rights to recoup the costs of re-running the line from the owner. And all it accomplishes is the yard getting dug up yet again. Terrible advice from someone who clearly hasn’t read any of the comments re: easements.

  64. Haltingpoint says:

    Another poster had a great idea about the sprinklers…maybe cut the line, wait for them to come back and experience your new water park which includes MANY MANY sprinkler systems, all conveniently pointed at that location.

    They try to touch your sprinklers? Go apeshit on them, block their path and let them try to get physical with you…that would be an interesting situation.

  65. vladthepaler says:

    The correct course of action would have been to call the police. A lawsuit in small claims court should be filed to cover the costs of fixing the damage. Unless, of course, your contract with Comcast allows them to run lines on your property, in which case, tough luck.

  66. snoop-blog says:

    There’s not enough Time Warner hate on this site. They are just as big of a monopoly and they are HUGE a-holes!

  67. fostina1 says:

    @Jaysyn: you know having 3 pits chained up out front and one that answers the door with me sure helps cut down on the bible thumpers, salesmen ect… its great to see them run off the porch.

  68. fostina1 says:

    @snoop-blog: i used to live in a trailer park. the trailers where less than 10 feet apart. each one had its own electical pole, but comcast ran my neighbors cable from my pole and buried it about 2 inches under the ground. i cut it off my pole 3 times before he got the point. i had dish and didnt want his wires. maybe if my neighbors werent jerks it would have been ok. maybe not my wife says im an ass.

  69. Veeber says:

    @edebaby: Since it’s on you’re property, if you “accidentally” cut the line while doing some yard work it wouldn’t be your fault right?

  70. Jesse says:

    Maybe code does not allow the utility line to be run by the curb.

    @Pylon83:

    I agree, theres probably an easment clause somewhere in either the neighborhood covenance, the owner’s house contract or the contract he signed with Comcast.

  71. BobTheMighty says:

    Most states the easement is 10 feet (or less) from the main road. You are not responsible for damage to any services run elsewhere on the property, at least in california.

    Get out your measuring tape, and at the 10 foot mark, it might be a good time to do a nice deep roto-tilling of your soil.

    (I would probably check with either a local real estate lawyer or sherriff’s department for the local laws. If it’s outside the easement, they need to redo it or pay you for encroaching on your property if you want to give them that option.)

  72. Burgandy says:

    I don’t know where this happened, but I know where it didn’t. Didn’t happen in : Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or Oklahoma. The give away was that the phrase “and I grabbed my gun on the way out the door…” was missing.

  73. coold8 says:

    Simple solution, call up and report vandalism and trespassing on your property, and tell the cops your afraid to walk outside because the men have a black device with them that looks like a gun.

  74. LionelEHutz says:

    Let’s see, if there’s no right of way the company can be sued for trespass & destruction of property while the workers should be charged by the homeowner (who’d make a complaint to the local PD) criminally with trespass & criminal mischief (vandalism).

  75. moore850 says:

    If you live in Texas, just shoot them. They are committing vandalism on your property… you’re even allowed to shoot them as they try to run away!

    [equinelaw.alisonrowe.com]

    According to Section 9.42 of the Texas Penal Code, a landowner can shoot at or use other deadly force against a trespasser if the landowner reasonably believes the land or property cannot be protected or recovered by any other means, or that the landowner himself would be exposed to substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury if the landowner does not use deadly force. A landowner can also shoot at or use other deadly force against a trespasser if the force is immediately necessary to prevent the trespasser’s imminent commission of arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or to prevent the trespasser who is fleeing immediately after committing one of those acts from escaping with the property. “Criminal mischief” includes “knowingly or intentionally damaging or destroying, tampering with or marking, inscribing slogans, drawing or painting on tangible property ” of the property owner.

  76. allthatsevil says:

    @Burgandy: That’s what I was just thinking.

    Being a Texas resident, I know that “Don’t mess with Texas” has more than one meaning.

  77. comcastcares says:

    The rules and policies regarding utility easements vary by municipality guidelines. It is always our goal to do any type of digging in the least intrusive manner possible. But this is really about a specific Customer concern which I would not be able to fully address without discussing it with him. I would be happy to review this further and share the finding with you, and more importantly to Kyle.

    Thanks!
    Frank Eliason
    We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com

  78. SuperJdynamite says:

    @Pylon83: “Comcast was completely in the right here, and the OP was wrong to demand that they stop.”

    You don’t actually know what’s recorded on the deed for that property so stop making things up.

  79. pantsonfire says:

    @Stormslanding: “You always get that one dickhead who spouts off about his constitutional rights…”

    Yikes. Sadly, I’m sensing that you have no sense of irony when you publicly refer to people as dickheads for asserting their constitutional rights. (Hint: See the First Amendment… dickhead.)

  80. ringo00 says:

    According to the OP’s story, they were not within the easement. In this situation, you call the cops and take pictures.

  81. nicemarmot617 says:

    Personally I don’t really care about easement laws. I would just turn the sprinklers on them. And possibly shout “Get off my lawn!”

  82. latinogamer says:

    a. Call the cops (tresspassing hello!)
    b. dig up the cable, and cut it.

  83. Imakeholesinu says:

    Definitely call the cops.

  84. booksy says:

    @iMike: Easement only applies to trunk lines. Individual consumer service lines do not apply and require owner consent to run, even throught the air let alone some ones yard.

  85. Pylon83 says:

    @SuperJdynamite:
    If you would have actually read my comment, you would have been able to pick up on the fact that my final statement is based upon my assumption (likely a correct one) that there is an easement. The OP makes NO mention whatsoever about an easement, doesn’t even use the word in his report of the incident. This indicates to me that he (a) doesn’t understand property rights/easements or (b) chooses to ignore them entirely and pretend like they do not exist. As mentioned above, easements are generally fairly broad and the OP’s statement that they weren’t running it “where they should have been” is not sufficiently definite to infer that he knows the easement only covers that part of the property. Taken in context, they “should” have run it over there because it wouldn’t have necessitated digging up his yard.

  86. JGB says:

    I had somewhat the opposite happen to me a few years ago. A new house went up behind mine (backyard to backyard). Time Warner came out and strung cable from their pedestal, across my front yard, across my back yard, and then across the new backyard. Then they left without burying it. Weeks went by, many phone calls were made, nothing got done. Finally, the grass started growing that spring and I started mowing it. I destroyed that cable three or four times (with them showing up to run new within a day or so after lawn mowing day). One time, the workman told me that if I didn’t stop mowing my lawn, Time Warner was going to file charges. I just laughed at him and made a point of gassing up my mower in the drive way while he was getting ready to leave (just being petty, I put it away after he was gone). Finally I got a call from someone in the legal department of Time Warner wanting to discuss my “willful destruction of Time Warner property”. He started talking about easements and I interupted him to ask if that included a cable running across my lawn. He said yes and I asked “across the TOP of the lawn?” Long silence and then he said “you are telling me that it is not buried?” I said, “WTF, you think I was digging it up and THEN running over it with my lawn mower?”
    They came and buried it that afternoon.

  87. nequam says:

    I love how frequently on this site that the law becomes a matter of opinion. If the utility has an easement, they have an easement. Period. Shame on property owners for not understanding the scope of what they own.

    While it is all well and good to say that the Comcast contractors should have to prove that there is an easement (BTW, the utility easement applies to all utilities not just Comcast or Time Warner or whomever), that is not the reality of how property rights are recorded. It’s not as though you are required to show your deed every time you walk onto your property. An easement is no different. It is a property right on equal footing with any other. The homeowner has no greater rights than the easement holder within the scope of the easement.

  88. Pylon83 says:

    @booksy:
    Got a cite of some sort for that very definite statement?

  89. Pylon83 says:

    @nequam:
    Very well put.

  90. MeOhMy says:

    @moore850: Didn’t happen at night, though.

  91. strells says:

    And Comcast still came in second in the worst company contest?

  92. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    I believe mention of an easement would be in the deed of the house. Otherwise comcast would have to negotiate with you to aquire an easement before they could dig. IANAL, of course…

  93. jenl1625 says:

    @NightSteel: Yes! Trespassing – especially after you’ve pointed it out to them and they’ve refused to STOP damaging your property.

  94. Rachacha says:

    The way I see it:
    Easement:
    There is not enough information in the OP to determine where comcast was digging, and how far away from the curb they were. As several other posters have mentioned, the edge of the utility easement can usually be identified by the location of the utility pedistals, meaning that the utility has the RIGHT to dig anywhere between the pedistal and the curb without your permission. They generally are responsible for retuning the lawn to a condition similar to the state that it was in before they started digging.

    Calling Dig Safe/Miss Utility:
    Again, the original poster did not mention if this was/was not done, so any posts here are pure speculation. That said, in most jurisdictions, it is a requirement to contact Dig Safe to mark and identify any underground utilities, and this is generally the first indication that some digging will be occurring in the area.

    Asking Permission to Dig:
    As mentioned above, Comcast has no duty to ask your permission to do work in an easement, however, they should provide you with the courtesy of letting you know what is going on, even if it is just seconds before they start to dig:
    Comcast: Mr Kyle, My name is Bob, and this is Biff. We are from Comcast, and we wanted to let you know that we will be running a new cable for your next door neighbors in the utility easement. This will require that we dig a trench in your front yard to bury the new cable. We will do what we can to minimize damage, and a repair crew will be out later in the week to finish up repairs to your lawn. If you have any questions, you can contact 1-800-COMCAST.

    Kyle: I don’t want you to dig up my yard. Dig between the sidewalk and the curb.

    Comcast: Local regulation (hand a copy of the regulation to the customer) allows us to dig in the easement, and the area where we will be digging is considered part of the easement

    Kyle: Oh, OK. I did not realize that was the easement

    Now I know that this would never happen with the 2nd worst company in America, but it SHOULD happen this way, and it would have stopped Kyle from posting this to Consumerist.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate Comcast as much as the rest of you, but in this case, I do not think there is enough information to say if Comcast or Kyle is wrong in this case.

  95. jenl1625 says:

    @Pylon83: But what’s the likelihood that the easement runs from the main Comcast box across the OP’s property in a direct line to the neighbor’s box? More likely, the easement goes along the front of the property where the OP wanted them to dig.

  96. cosby says:

    @iMike:

    The big question is if they have an easement. If they were on the easement(which the property owner should know about)then the owner is SOL. They could pave it over if they wanted to. You can’t deny them access to it.

    If they were not on an easement or even if they were blocking other property not cover by the easement then the best cource of action would be to file offical tresspassing and vandalism charges against the men and then file a lawsuit in small claims court for the damage to the yard and the removal of the comcast wiring.

    Personaly I would have called the police instead of comcast and let the contractors prove they have right to access the property to them.

  97. jonworld says:

    I would have turned on my sprinklers…or call my “Landscaping Company” to come mow. “Hey, it’s not like I can reschedule something like that.”

  98. cosby says:

    @jenl1625:

    Really depends on the property. I’ve seen easements take up a good deal of front or back yards. They can be pretty big.

    In this case we don’t know the answer. We need more information.

  99. Woofer00 says:

    @cosby: Agreed. Whether or not Comcast has an easement against the property, there is no harm in requiring written proof to that effect.

  100. @NightSteel:

    If someone is digging up your property without permission, summon law enforcement. Comcast, especially, is not going to care until you make them care.

    In most places, the cable company/phone company/electric company have a lien or something that legally allows them to access your property at any time, dig, and do whatever they need to do. Lien may not be the right word, but it is legal in most cases.

  101. @Veeber:

    Since it’s on you’re property, if you “accidentally” cut the line while doing some yard work it wouldn’t be your fault right?

    In most cities, there’s a “Call Before You Dig” law that holds you responsible for any damage if you don’t have somebody come out and map out where the utilities are.

  102. trujunglist says:

    Although there is almost always a right of way for the roadway and easements for utilities, I would certainly not just accept at face value that they were using the ROW/easement and not your private property. If you do, then you open yourself up to losing whatever property you allowed them to work on. Not a good idea.
    Then again, if I did own any property (which I don’t, because I wasn’t smart enough to get a home loan and subsequently get bailed out), I would certainly have a map showing exactly where my property line was, where the ROW was, and where any easements are located.

  103. When we bought our house in Vermont, our realtor went over all the easements on our property. She even gave us a map of the property with markings of where the underground phone, power, cable, water/sewer lines were. We were also informed at the closing that in our subdivision, we would only have a day’s notice if Verizon, Adelphia (now Comcast),Green Mountain Power, etc. would be digging unless it was an emergency.

  104. I don’t believe that cable companies have been lumped into the “utility easement” category.

    If I remember correctly it only applies to railroads, electric, gas, and most recently, telephone companies.

    That being said, call the police and let them sort it out.

  105. JN2 says:

    <<< 911 what is the nature of your emergency?
    - There are 2 men trespassing on my lawn and digging in my yard with no permission.
    <<
    - (dials local constables office) ring ring . . . ring ring . . ring ring . .ring ring . . . ring ring . . ring ring . . >insert 35 minutes here< ring ring . . . ring ring . . ring ring . . hangs up

    <<< 911 what is the nature of your emergency?
    - I called a while back about some trespassing, remember me? I called the other number and no one answered.
    <<< Are the 2 men still trespassing?
    - No, thanks to your efficient policing they left already.
    <<< We’re glad to be of service.

  106. mike says:

    My townhouse is a bit different. Private lines to the townhouse, yes, they can dig up because, well, you’re requesting it.

    I don’t know about the laws of easements though, but like to know. If this happened to me, I would have stayed on the side of defending my propery and pulled my 9mm and tell them to get off my property or I will shoot to kill.

  107. mike says:

    @Rachacha: Verizon did this in the form of a letter to me, before, during, and after. Even though it wasn’t my property (it was on public land, but unsightly), they wanted people to know that they were there and to be careful of the newly dug holes.

    I thought it was nice of them.

  108. Landru says:

    I would go with the sprinkers. Once they left, I would buy one of those motion detectors for the sprinklers (the kind that are meant for deer) that just come on when they come within range.

  109. newfenoix says:

    @iMike: I had a similar situation with a contractor that was working for CenterPoint Energy and repairing a gas main. I came home from work to find the walkway to my backdoor GONE! I asked the site foreman what they were doing and he told me that it was none of my damn business. I called the PD, which was three blocks away and they sent two units and a field supervisor out. I used to belong to that department so they figured there was real problem.

    When the lieutenant asked what they were doing, he got a similar response. By that time, they had most of the street in front of my house dug up. The lieutenant asked to see his city permits and guess what? He had none. Site manager got a trip to the PD in the back of a patrol car and the equipment was seized by the PD. Two days later, a crew came out to fix my walkway and the street.

    About a month after that, a rep from CenterPoint Energy came to my house and ASKED PERMISSION to have access to the underground main that ran under my yard. I granted the crew access to my yard they were done in less than a day. The other crew? Fired and prosecuted for “willful destruction of public property and criminal mischief over $1000″ both felonies in the state of Arkansas.

  110. Pylon83 says:

    @linus:
    If you did that, you’d go to jail. You can’t use deadly force (generally) unless you reasonably believe that your life is in danger. I imagine your locality has a law against brandishing a firearm as well. I imagine that also violates criminal assault laws in your area. Good try though.

  111. ram0029 says:

    @InfiniTrent:

    No such right exists in any state as far as I know. Even utility companies do not have an unlimited right to access your property.

    As mentioned previously, an easement grants specfic rights, but only within the easement. And those rights are limited. An easement is not the same as a dedicated right-of-way. A property owner still has rights to use an easement with certain limitations. A property owner pays taxes on an easement. A dedicated right-of-way becomes the property of whoever it is dedicated to.

  112. djhopscotch says:

    “They could pave it over if they wanted to. You can’t deny them access to it.”

    Easements do not give utilities the right to do what ever they want with the land. In order to access the easement they have to get an encroachment permit from the local goverment. When power, gas, or telecoms have to do any digging or any line work that involves placing equipment on the easement they are required to get an encroachment permit. Every encroachment permit i have ever seen from any state always require the working agency to leave the site of encroachment in the same state that it was before they started work.

    Who you want to contact is the public works dept, they will have the say over the encroachment permits. And they do the site inspection before and after the work is complete.

  113. newfenoix says:

    As a rule, cable and satellite companies are not considered public utilities. Therefore, ROW’s and easements DO NOT APPLY. Tell them to leave or you will have them removed by the police. And call the police in front of them and stand there until they arrive.

  114. floraposte says:

    There was major (fences pulled down, backhoes involved) digging in my backyard last summer because of a storm drain collapse, and you better believe I learned about easements. And had a lawyer.

    While there’s almost certainly a utilities easement on Kyle’s property, it’s not uncommon for utilities/towns to believe an easement gives them more rights than it does, and it’s not uncommon for homeowners to think that easements are more restricted than they are. However, if Kyle doesn’t know the terms of the easements on his own property, he’s likely SOL in arguing about this, and he’d be wise to do some research both on the plat maps and in the relevant recorder of deeds office (they’re not always listed on the title any more). Easement terms vary–the put-things-back-the-way-they-were principle is by no means a given, for instance. And this kind of complication is why the cops probably wouldn’t get involved if you called them–this is a civil dispute about easements.

    At this point it sounds like what’s done is done. If he wants to contest it, he probably needs a lawyer as well as his property docs. I suppose there might be some advance warning requirement that got breached–he could try municipal or state folks to see if there are any restrictions on a utility’s non-emergency access where he lives.

  115. simplegreen says:

    That shit wouldnt happen in Texas thats for sure.

  116. mike says:

    @newfenoix: That’s awesome. Did the Site manager get jail time?

  117. floraposte says:

    @newfenoix: cable is included in the public utilities for easement purposes in my state, and in the communities I got quick Google results on. But I would agree it’s possible that it’s not included anywhere and that that’s another good thing for Kyle to check on.

  118. mike says:

    @Pylon83: There have been a few cases in VA (where I live) and MD where people have dressed up as Comcast and Verizon to rob people. Since I don’t know what they are doing on my property, and they haven’t notified me of what they are doing, I would ask them to tell me. If they refused, I would go into defensive mode.

    I can’t protect my property, but I can make darn sure that they don’t come after me.

  119. Pylon83 says:

    @newfenoix:
    That’s wholly untrue. The cable companies franchise agreement with the city effectively makes them “utilities” and grants them access to the easements. Perhaps a little research next time before making such statements.

  120. floraposte says:

    Bugger. “anywhere” s/b “everywhere,” of course.

  121. Pylon83 says:

    @linus:
    Well, when they are digging up your lawn and preparing to bury cable, it’s pretty obvious what they are doing. Brandishing a firearm is clearly unwarranted and SHOULD land you in jail.

  122. mike says:

    @linus: Also, they would be considered the agressors since they came onto my property.

  123. junkmail says:

    Right/Wrong/Easement/Whatever, as hard as I work on my lawn, if I saw someone digging it up… instant batshit. At the VERY least, I would have been leaning on the sprinkler start button. Depending upon my mood that day, it might have suddenly been time to take the dog for a walk… if’n you know what I mean. *psst, Daisy, no… down… no really, don’t do that.. oh Daisy, you bad, bad, dog*

  124. mike says:

    @Pylon83:

    it’s pretty obvious what they are doing

    How is that? That would be a matter of opinion, unless you can read people’s minds.

    You’re telling me you can read people’s minds? If that’s the case, you and me should get into business!

  125. Burgandy says:

    @allthatsevil: Exactly! Did you notice that alot more people became alot nicer once the concealed weapons permits were issued. You never know who is packing :)

  126. Pylon83 says:

    @linus:
    Well, in court, the question will be “what would a reasonable person think they are doing”. I imagine that most “Reasonable” people would think they are burying a cable and not go get their gun in fear for their lives.

  127. mike says:

    @Pylon83: I’m glad your so trusting of people. I’m not.

    I don’t want to get into an argument with you. The point is you would have handled it differently than I. I may have gotten in trouble with the law, but that’s the risk I openly take to defend myself.

  128. henrygates says:

    @Landru: I think a regular hose with a nice strong nozzle attached would be more effective.

  129. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    @Pylon83

    I would double check. A few years back some idiot from AT&T wanted to run something through my yard, and claimed an easement. They were only about 10 ft off! Turns out they do have an easement, but only 6″ of the easement was left. Apparently the city laid a sidewalk over the top of it more than a decade prior. AT&T, hoping I wouldn’t notice, tried anyway. Thank goodness the was at home for lunch!

    After much verbal haranguing, and a land survey later, I told AT&T to blow me due to their attitude throughout the whole ordeal. At one point they threatened to sue me.

    Long story short, check it out. Should the easement not exist (and don’t doubt that it won’t if it’s more than 5′ into your property) call them up demanding removal AND repair. Should an easement exist, check it very, very, very carefully. You’ll probably find they f*cked up and can get a removal and repair. The second happened to my parents with the power company.

  130. Solidgun says:

    This is why I own a gun. I am not going to be asking nicely without insisting heavily that they remove themselves from private property. I wouldn’t shoot them in any case, but why are you tresspassing? They could not dig up city property without permits…..so why mine?

  131. newfenoix says:

    @linus: Yes he did. He and his boss also had to reimburse the city for the expense of repairing their damage.

  132. k6richar says:

    I would imagine they do have the right to dig there. In Canada (at least Ontario) The government owns around 30 feet to either side of all roads. So unless you have a rather deep yard they cut through it was probably legal. It would be nice however if Comcast (and others) would at least knock on the door and tell you they will be cutting through your yard.

  133. newfenoix says:

    @Pylon83: I am a former cop and BY LAW cable companies ARE NOT public utilities. Take your own advice.

  134. t3rminal says:

    @Pylon83: ABSOLUTELY right, except that the workers didn’t use the easement on the property and instead dug private property. given that Kyle knows what he is talking about

  135. dmann99 says:

    True, most people have no idea what their easment is. When buying my house I obtained a plat with easements clearly defined — 25 feet to either side of the centerline of the street. There is also a small lot on the end of my street that was left specifically for utility access to the areas behind our houses.

    Didn’t really matter much to the Verizon contractors who drove heavy equipment in my neighbor’s yard (well past the 25′ mark) to get to the buffer. Once in his backyard they discovered he had a fence and could not proceed so they tore up his yard trying to get their equipment turned around. They then drove through my yard but were gone by the time I was able to get home & call law enforcement.

    We had company names, license plates, pictures of damage… 4 weeks of phone calls to Verizon and they would only offer to send a bag of grass seed. Never got an explanation why they were so far past the easement without permission.

    So no I’m not surprised, the contractors want to get in and get out and not have to deal with asking for permission.

  136. Pylon83 says:

    @newfenoix:
    Former COP doesn’t mean you know the law. Most cops I’ve encountered have a very skewed view of what the law is. That’s why they don’t get to actually prosecute people. They leave that to the lawyers. Read up on Franchise agreements and get back to me.

  137. scerwup says:

    If it happens again, call the police. The police will know where the easements are, and will be able to arrest people that are destroying your property, especially when you have told them to stop destroying your property, multiple times.

  138. Pylon83 says:

    @dmann99:
    Generally companies are allowed to take necessary action to access the easement. For example, if the easement happened to be at the back of the property, they can drive their equipment back there if necessary.

  139. Pylon83 says:

    @scerwup:
    The police will not know where the easements are unless they happen to have a copy of the deed/survey/plat map with them. People put too much stock in the legal knowledge of police officers.

  140. t3rminal says:

    plot plan or lot map

  141. Scuba Steve says:

    @Veeber: A judge would not look kindly on this sort of behavior. And that might be at a criminal trial.

  142. MeOhMy says:

    @newfenoix:

    I am a former cop and BY LAW cable companies ARE NOT public utilities.

    Shenanigans on that claim – laws are different in different jurisdictions. Maybe it was even true in the city/county/state that you claim you served; does not mean for a second it’s true everywhere else or even anywhere else.

  143. Elvisisdead says:

    @Pylon83: Generally isn’t even close. All states have different rules. Texas, for example, is a defense of property state. You can defend not only yourself, but your property from harm. In Texas, if they’re on your property and damaging it without asking permission, you don’t have to shoot them, but you may most certainly point and tell them to cut it out.

    The problem, is that Linus’ home state is a “duty to retreat” state. That means he’s can’t go pick a fight with a lineman and expect not to go to jail. In VA, you have a duty to retreat from a confrontation until that option is removed. Someone breaks into your house, you have to retreat until you can no longer retreat, and THEN you can kill them. You can also kill to defend someone else who is in mortal danger. Meaning, If I still lived there, I could kill Linus for shooting at a defenseless lineman who is doing his job.

    @linus: Frankly, you make the rest of us look bad. Someone needs to take whatever firearm you have away from you. You obviously aren’t mature enough to even hold it, nevermind use it.

  144. legwork says:

    Good job, Kyle. Have to watch those contractors. My family ran into an easement problem with Comcast contractors, too. The only reason we knew they were out of bounds was because we’d gone through a property-line dispute with our neighbor the year before which brought out everything. We even had maps to show the workers, but it still took a supervisor visit to stop the work and a letter from our attorney before they paid for the replanting. None of them ever deviated from their position that they had the right-of-way. Even the payment was a “courtesy.” They must all attend the same class.

    pylon
    What’s the deal? A simple “Whoops, my comments were based on incorrect assumptions” would win more points than this continual and often OT bickering with other posters.

  145. the_gank says:

    I have a funny feeling Comcast is going down in the next years…. It is almost as if I am the Oracle and I see the future of Comcast..

    Constantly in the news and always negative or bad public image…jeez..the CEO should be fed up by now…

  146. Pylon83 says:

    @Elvisisdead:
    Generally is close. You can’t use deadly force unless you believe your life is in danger or you are facing sever bodily harm. In most states, it’s assumed your life is in danger in the case of a home intruder. A comcast guy on the lawn burying cable isn’t even close to that. I do agree that Linus has no business owning a firearm.

  147. bwcbwc says:

    @nequam: Law is always a matter of opinion. So are strikes and balls in a baseball game. But in both cases, there’s only one opinion that means anything.

  148. cortana says:

    Rather than worry about digging it up, you might want to take this tack. Go and check to see if the cable is buried in their easement or not. Check your house deed and verify this, mark the easement off with something small and inobtrusive (like a big 10penny nail hammered into the ground.) If the line is buried inside your property, feel free to invoice Comcast for their rental of your land, making sure to add appropriate fees for their work and leaving equipment behind when they left without a proper agreement in place. It’s not cheap to lease land for utilities. The cell phone tower companies pay people hundreds or thousands of dollars a month for the access and placement of their towers on someone’s land. You should get paid too! It’ll also cost them a significant fee to have their people come and take OUT the line, as well, remember.

  149. theRIAA says:

    tell them to stop, that you know they are just trying to do their job, but you won’t allow them to run it through their yard, and you’ll call the police if they don’t get off your property immediately.

  150. ennTOXX says:

    if after telling the person(s) to stop digging on my “private” property, i would’ve just “1,2″ knocked there ass(es) out & let them call the cops, as i call a lawyer for suit against comcast. payback’s a bitch comcast chumps… :||

  151. newfenoix says:

    Public utilities are: Gas, water, electric and land line phone service. And to pylon…have you gone to law school? I have. Have you ever been a cop? What do you ACTUALLY know about police work? Ever been one? Cops don’t know the law huh? Tell that to the next cop that pulls you over. And stay out of Arlington, TX…I’ll be wearing a badge there very soon.

  152. floraposte says:

    @newfenoix: Yes, it does seem a little odd to consider cable a “public” utility (it is largely privately developed, after all; privately owned doesn’t matter so much any more, since a lot of so-called “public” utilities are privately supplied now), and there may be various circumstances in which it doesn’t make the category. However, what counts in this situation is whether the relevant county or city considers cable a public utility for the purposes of granting an easement–as it looks like your own Arlington and Tarrant County do, judging from their online docs that include cable among public utilities in easement discusssions, and as my county does.

    But without knowing where Kyle is, we can’t know if Comcast counts there, and even if we did, it still doesn’t settle the specific question about his property.

  153. 2719 says:

    WOW I really don’t know what’s going on with people saying “shoot them!”.

    Your property is not really all that. There are rules and restrictions. Easements are there for a reason, so one person could not block/slow down service deployment to the neighborhood. I know of at least one case where someone built a fence over a cable pedestal (dead center, blocked the cover). A cable locator showed up, removed the section of the fence obstructing the access. The owner called the police only to be told not to block access to the easement.

    They should have told you upfront and at least be polite about it. But most of the work is subcontracted and the people doing it don’t give a damn.

  154. ivanthemute says:

    @newfenoix, don’t be a jackass. You sound like an idiot rent-a-cop, and you’re giving real LEOs a bad name.

    And for everyone else…quick rules of thumb for Cable companies.

    1: The majority of cable companies operate under what is referred to as franchise agreements, which (for most areas) classifies them as utilities and makes them accountable to your local PUC, as well as granting them permissions to use dedicated rights of way and easements.

    2: In many areas, permits are not required to perform minor digs and trenching in easements and rights of way. Contact your local government to find out what is required.

    3: If you dispute an individuals right to dig in an area, you should contact law enforcement. While they may not have the knowledge of easements and rights of way for an area, when you research that with your local clerk of court, if there is any impropriaty, there will be a police report on the incident which will provide proof and make it easier to file a claim.

    4: All cable providers have a “damages” team (it may be called something else) that covers damage from contractors or techs. If a crew comes out and causes damage to your lawn, buried sprinkler system, or other property, most will repair the damage at no cost to the customer. Again, you may need to contact law enforcement to file a report to support your claim.

    5: For God sake, do NOT cut the cable/dig it up/remove it. Three reasons. A: if it’s live copper, you might end up hurting yourself (most copper lines in a hybrid fiber-coax net carries a current. How strong, I don’t know.) B: if it turns out that you damage the lines and they’re properly placed in a right of way or easement, you are liable and may be held responsable for any and all damages (both to the physical line and disruptions of service.) There was one guy in Orangeburg, SC, who was plowing a field and entered a right of way, cutting a fiber line. He got hit with a bill for the repair of the fiber and for the cost of lost revenue caused by his actions. C: doing so (especially if it’s a trunk line) will knock out your neighbors, making you a jackass. Call your clerk of court, or county register of titles and deeds, and find out EVERYTHING!

    6: And finally, don’t forget that physically threatening someone (with a dog or a gun or a rake or a fist,) or even turning on the sprinklers could be construed as assault and could get you in a world of trouble, even if you are in the right for the tresspass side of it.

  155. Parting says:

    Put a fence. Put a fence. Put a fence.

    (Not blaming a victim).

    But once I own a house, I’ll definitely will put a fence. At least decorative one. And ”danger, dog!” sign. Even if I don’t have a dog. That way, I’ll keep jerks far far away. For a very happy ending.

  156. scoosdad says:

    @ivanthemute:

    5: For God sake, do NOT cut the cable/dig it up/remove it. Three reasons. A: if it’s live copper, you might end up hurting yourself (most copper lines in a hybrid fiber-coax net carries a current. How strong, I don’t know.)

    And if it’s just a simple Comcast cable TV coax drop from the trunk line tap to the neighbor’s house, as it appears to be from the OP’s story, the current on the cable is practically unmeasureable from an AC or DC voltage standpoint, and is no danger at all. Fiber (light) carries no current either. Neither the cable company nor a fiber-to-the-home provider would ever put any kind of dangerous voltages on a line running unprotected underground in a shallow trench, and/or terminating at a private residence, for a lot of sensible reasons.

    Cut away. (I used to be the engineering manager for a small cable system.)

  157. physics2010 says:

    The OP has already commented on here that he knows where his easement is. It is clearly marked on the survey when you buy your house. Now that we know that Comcast was not using the easement can you still justify them digging in his yard?

  158. Meathamper says:

    They should give Kyle a free Wii.

  159. newfenoix says:

    @ivanthemute: I am not a rent-a-cop and if you have NEVER been a cop, I am really not interested in your opinion. Yes, I am VERY familiar with the franchise agreements that cable companies have with municipalities. I had to deal with that fact several times a week. HOWEVER, they are not public utilities. Law enforcement is not required to assist them as we are PUBLIC UTILITIES. I never suggested that Kyle attack or threaten these guys. I said that he needed to tell them to get off the property AND call the police. And in no way did I suggest that he use a weapon. But not even PROPER PUBLIC UTILITIES have unlimited rights to invade your property. And they better have a very good reason to start digging stuff up.

    And btw, just because have friends that are cops or watch Cops doesn’t mean that you know anything about law enforcement so give the rest of us a break.

  160. AgentTuttle says:

    @eismcsquare2: @Rachacha:

    Finally someone says it. Easement or no easement, they should be required to extend the courtesy of informing the property owner first. Who really wants to deal with an owner who isn’t notified and then pissed? I mean, the bottom line is that they lost a customer over it here. Sheesh. Even film crews notify residents when they are shooting in the general AREA.

  161. rellog says:

    @SuperJdynamite: Why should his complete lack of knowledge stop him from spouting off… it never seems to in any other thread.

    OP stated the easement, which Comcast was not within. This is a great reason to get a nice big dog!

    As for their “contract” with Comcast… fine, dump them… now get the crap off my lawn! Easy enough…

  162. hardtoremember says:

    If someone is digging in my yard without letting me know why and what they are doing and what right they have to do it, they are leaving my yard.
    As far as I am concerned it is reasonable that I know these things. It is my property easement or not.
    You would think with the number of home invasions and robberies in big cities comcast would be at least a little bit sensitive to this.

  163. krispykrink says:

    Shotgun. That is all.

    You do not come onto my property and destroy it. If you don’t immediately drop the shovel when ordered to, I will consider it a weapon and shoot you.

  164. pantsonfire says:

    @newfenoix:

    “…if you have NEVER been a cop, I am really not interested in your opinion.”

    I think that pretty much sums up the attitude of most rent-a-cops I have dealt with.

    /Yes I graduated from law school, and yes it is a much better school than the one you are pretending to have attended.

    //My whole family is in law enforcement so I’m not buying what you’re selling. You can stop pretending to be a real LEO and go back to guarding the 7-11 and watching Cops re-runs on your ipod.

  165. East_Coast_Midwesterner says:

    Not to be a nag:

    “”The rules and policies regarding utility easements vary by municipality guidelines. It is always are goal to do any type of digging in the least intrusive manner possible. “”

    Seriously “are” not “our”?

  166. veal says:

    If any Consumerists live in or near Arlington TX, I suggest you follow through on this. There is a soon-to-be-member of your police force threatening people on an internet board with some sort of action if they enter the sacred hallows of Arlington because they disagree with him about a petty issue such as this. There can’t be that many officers getting ready to get their badges there, why not look into it? This guy shouldn’t be a cop in your town. Please do something.

    Do I know any cops? No. And I never have. What, are you kidding? The more I see and hear about police, the less they even seem like human beings to me.

  167. Shark1998 says:

    @dorastandpipe: Absolutely agree. If you destroy the cable they will sue.

    However, I think defending your property from the cable-nazis with a paintball gun shots to the groin is perfectly OK….that or you mace the bastards if they refuse to leave.

  168. nadmonk says:

    Comcast is determined not to come in second place to Countrywide again next year.

  169. mariospants says:

    The OP has clarified that the digging was done without his permission and past the easement. If the lawn survives the ordeal and there is no plan to add a garden or dig it up in future, I’d leave the cable alone. For one, if the signal breaks you’ll just have Comcast back in your front yard digging again (and probably causing real damage) and – more importantly – you now have something to remind your neighbor about when you ask to borrow his hedge trimmer and he says “no”.

    Frankly, better warned is for-armed. When my neighbors had a contractor digging up his driveway to put in interlock (we lived downtown at that time and lots were pretty tight there) the contractor had me convinced that the property line was right at my foundation – exposing and damaging my parging in the process, which I fixed at my own expense. Later on, I looked up my papers and discovered it was bullshit as I actually owned a couple of feet of my neighbor’s driveway. If I had known at the time, I would have had the contractor fix my parging at their cost. I’m more careful now.

  170. Phillip1952 says:

    The more I hear and read about about this company the more amazed I am they only finished second in the worst company in America contest. Makes me shiver what the number one worst does to its customers.

  171. Firethorn says:

    @newfenoix:
    As others have noted, whether the cable company is considered a utility for the purpose of easements is up to the local area to decide. Many people are addicted to their cable television, after all.

    You, or your department, may be confusing the difference between a ‘utility’ such as cable TV, and an what I’d call an ‘essential service’ such as electricity, water, and sewer.

    People don’t have cable, they can’t watch the upteemth rerun of Star Trek. People don’t have water they can’t bathe or wash dishes(drinking&cooking can still be done with bottled). No electricity = no heat or lighting for most houses. Sewer problems are just unsanitary, and can quickly render a home unlivible. No telephones(going back to the day when landlines were the only option) equals inability to call emergency services.

  172. jinnrice says:

    FUCK YEA I WOULD DIG THAT SHIT BACK UP @snoop-blog:

  173. rkhrkh says:

    I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer. This is not my field of practice. That being said, I find it very odd that people would simply pronounce that Comcast has a right of way, easement, or whatever. Property law varies from place to place. Easements are specific. The cannot just dig wherever they see fit.

  174. Raiders757 says:

    I have not read all the comments, so sorry if I repeat anything.

    Being a land surveyor, I run across this sort of thing all of the time. Most everyone on a public maintained road has an easement. More often than not, home owners have no idea really where it’s at .

    It’s very easy to expalin for those who wish to find out for themselves. Of course you do need to know what the easement is for your particular street is, as not all are not the same.

    Say you have a 50ft. easement. Take a tape measure and measure 25ft. from the center of the street in front of your home. Where that 25ft. ends, is where your property truely begins.

    More ofthen than not, if you have a sidewalk, the easement will be a few feet behind the sidewalk. A fence has no bearing on where the easement ends. It’s not built, or marked, by surveyors. To think your fence is out of bounds for public, or private utilities, is to be a fool. Look out in your front yard. If you live in one of those nice modern subdivisions, you will see cable and telephone junction boxes behind the sidewalk. More than likely your easement is in or around that area.

    Yes, your yard can be dug up, and so can your nice pretty landscaping.

  175. lingum says:

    1. Get a spade.
    2. Drive spade through cable severing it.
    3. Leave spade sticking out of ground.

  176. DanGarion says:

    I would suggest that if this happens the best course of action would be to ask the technicians to call their supervisor. The OP picking up the phone and calling customer service really wasn’t a useful thing to do, since customer service really doesn’t know what or why a technician may be doing anything out in the field. the supervisor however should know what his technician is doing and should be able to reasonably understand what is happening.

    If the tech refused to call his supervisor then i would have contacted the police, since they should have to prove easement if they are going to be digging up on your actual yard (instead of the normal 3-6 feet in the front yard.

    Something really sounds weird here…

  177. Is there a reason he never called the police to report trespassing?

    § 3503. Criminal trespass.

    (a) Buildings and occupied structures.–

    1. A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he:
    1. enters, gains entry by subterfuge or surreptitiously remains in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof; or
    2. breaks into any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof.
    2. An offense under paragraph (1)(I) is a felony of the third degree, and an offense under paragraph (1)(ii) is a felony of the second degree.
    3. As used in this subsection:

    “Breaks into”
    To gain entry by force, breaking, intimidation, unauthorized opening of locks, or through an opening not designed for human access.

    (b) Defiant trespasser.–

    1. A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by:
    1. actual communication to the actor;
    2. posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders;
    3. fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders;
    4. notices posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the person’s attention at each entrance of school grounds that visitors are prohibited without authorization from a designated school, center or program official; or
    5. an actual communication to the actor to leave school grounds as communicated by a school, center or program official, employee or agent or a law enforcement officer.
    2. Except as provided in paragraph (1)(v), an offense under this subsection constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree if the offender defies an order to leave personally communicated to him by the owner of the premises or other authorized person. An offense under paragraph (1)(v) constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree. Otherwise it is a summary offense.

    (b.1) Simple trespasser.–

    1. A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place for the purpose of:
    1. threatening or terrorizing the owner or occupant of the premises;
    2. starting or causing to be started any fire upon the premises; or
    3. defacing or damaging the premises.
    2. An offense under this subsection constitutes a summary offense.

    (b.2) Agricultural trespasser.–

    1. A person commits an offense if knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so he:
    1. enters or remains on any agricultural or other open lands when such lands are posted in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the person’s attention or are fenced or enclosed in a manner manifestly designed to exclude trespassers or to confine domestic animals; or
    2. enters or remains on any agricultural or other open lands and defies an order not to enter or to leave that has been personally communicated to him by the owner of the lands or other authorized person.

    2. An offense under this subsection shall be graded as follows:
    1. An offense under paragraph (1)(i) constitutes a misdemeanor of the third degree and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than one year and a fine of not less than $250.
    2. An offense under paragaraph (1)(ii) constitutes a misdemeanor of the second degree and is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than two years and a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000.

    3. For the purposes of this subsection, the phrase “agricultural or other open lands” shall mean any land on which agricultural activity or farming as defined in section 3309 (relating to agricultural vandalism) is conducted or any land populated by forest trees of any size and capable of producing timber or other wood products or any other land in an agricultural security area as defined in the act of June 30, 1981 (P.L. 128, No. 43), known as the Agricultural Area Security Law, or any area zoned for agricultural use.

  178. newfenoix says:

    @rkhrkh: Yeah, but look at ALL of the experts in the field here.

  179. Elvisisdead says:

    @Pylon83: OK – agreed on some points, but you can’t use terms like “most states”. Unless you’ve done a review of all of the states and have quantifiable numbers, then it doesn’t apply. Specifically, in VA, someone breaking into your house is not considered a threat to your life. In any state that is a defense of property state, it may be considered a threat, but it doesn’t have to be. You can kill someone in the act of stealing or damaging your property. Wouldn’t recommend it, because stuff isn’t worth it, but you could.

    @newfenoix: You need to get your story straight. Former cop? Soon to be cop? Ex law student? Do you even know? Whatever the situation, Arlington doesn’t need you to tell people not to go there – it does just fine telling people that on on its own. If it weren’t for Baseball, 6 flags, and bad topless clubs in Ft. Worth, there would never be a reason to go there.

  180. crankitupyo says:

    I think that the problem most people here have is a hatred for comcast. If you put the utility company at the top of the page the outcome is still the same. The OP did not understand fully the property lines. He originally said that he was aware that 3 feet off of the curb was the easement. Comcast did the research and found that the easement granted to them was 12 feet from the curb. All of the other comments made by the people on the site are petty attacks against Comcast and why should his neighbor have to suffer by having his cable cut.