AT&T workers becoming crime targets in neighborhoods

By Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - The union representing AT&T employees says field technicians are being targeted by criminals and the company isn't doing enough to keep them safe.

Steven Flores, president of Communications Workers of America Local 6222, says there have been two armed robberies and one, possibly two, shooting incidents involving AT&T technicians in the last two weeks. He complains that AT&T has not complied with union requests to notify all workers when any employee is involved in a crime.

"I'm being told by my technicians that they're not being notified," Flores said. "They're not getting the whole story. When they do tell them something it's general information."

Flores says a worker was robbed at gunpoint near Tidwell and Highway 59 on Aug. 22. Another worker was robbed in southeast Houston on Aug. 29.

Ten days earlier he says a bullet was fired through the window of an AT&T service truck. The spent bullet landed in the driver's hand. Flores says another truck had a window shattered while on a call in northwest Houston that may also have been caused by a gunshot.

It's not the first time AT&T techs have been targeted by crooks. In the fall of 2012, Houston police investigated a series of five armed robberies, involving three men who took field workers' iPad computers. AT&T offered a $50,000 reward at the time, and field employees stopped carrying the computers.

This time the union says it's not clear if four recent incidents are related or not.

"We don't know if it's a team of individuals, one individual that has decided we're easy pickings, or someone with a vendetta. We don't know," Flores said.

AT&T officials were not available for comment Thursday.

A Houston police spokesperson says robbery investigators don't believe the recent incidents constitute a crime trend, but they are investigating.

AT & T released the following statement:

We're committed to serving our customers in the communities where they live. And we're committed to the safety of our employees and provide workers in the field with safety training and capabilities.

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