Signal theft isn’t the only type of fleecing cable operators are worrying about these days. A rash of robberies from North Carolina to Georgia and Florida have operators and local and state law enforcement agencies tracking down a different type of cable thief.one who’s looking for hefty profits from reselling purloined cable equipment, often to overseas markets. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Adelphia and Charter have been affected by the ongoing filching, according to two cable industry executives. With amplifiers and transmission equipment being lifted from aerial or buried cable plant, hundreds of homes at a time lose service. Damages to the MSOs, including the loss and replacement of equipment and the cost of stockpiling backup equipment, have run into millions of dollars over the last few years, says Chris Melcher, VP of law and public policy for Adelphia’s Southeast region. The thefts mirror a problem that occurred several years ago in California. The situation has been ongoing throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast region for two to three years, Melcher says. Adelphia has lost more equipment over the past year as it has accelerated its system upgrades. The scope of Time Warner’s victimization became apparent about five months ago in North Carolina, where it is the dominant operator. Complicating the investigation is the random pattern of the thefts, which have jumped from county to county and state to state, making them more difficult to track for resource-strapped local law enforcement. "Word of mouth has spread that this is profitable, and more people have joined in," says one MSO executive who asked to remain anonymous. A few of the companies hit are looking into the possibility that insiders are involved.