BALTIMORE, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Comcast and local prosecutors across Maryland and Delaware today announced that they will implement a cable amnesty program from September 2, 2003 to September 16, 2003. A house-by-house audit of all cable systems in the Region is currently underway, and following the amnesty program Comcast will begin turning people's names over to the appropriate authorities. Anyone who is receiving unauthorized cable service in a Comcast service area in the jurisdictions listed below will be able to contact Comcast and become authorized, paying customers with no questions asked by calling 1-888-COMCAST or by logging onto www.cabletheft.com. Comcast and local prosecutors are conducting the cable amnesty program across the Baltimore-Annapolis areas including Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Calvert County, Cecil County, Charles County, the City of Annapolis, Harford County and Howard County. The amnesty program is also taking place in Comcast service areas on Maryland's Eastern Shore including the Ocean City metropolitan area and the Salisbury metropolitan area. Those jurisdictions include Caroline County, Dorchester County, Somerset County, Wicomico County and Worcester County. All three counties in Delaware are also participating in the cable amnesty program. Customers can feel free to call 1-888-COMCAST or log onto www.cabletheft.com in Kent County, New Castle County and Sussex County in Delaware to take advantage of the amnesty program and become authorized, paying customers with no questions asked. As part of the amnesty program, residents currently receiving unauthorized cable services may choose to become paying customers over the phone or have the unauthorized service disconnected without facing legal action. In addition, residents receiving cable television through unauthorized cable boxes will have the opportunity to turn in their boxes to Comcast in exchange for a new, legal box. In some cases, residents may not realize they are receiving cable service illegally. Comcast's amnesty program will also educate communities about "active" and "passive" cable theft. "Active" cable theft occurs when people knowingly and willfully make illegal connections to the cable system or tamper with equipment so they receive cable service without paying for it. "Passive" theft occurs when an individual moves into a new residence where cable is already installed and fails to notify Comcast that the billing should be transferred to the new occupants. Following the amnesty program, Comcast officials will complete a house-by- house electronic audit of its cable systems to identify cable thieves. As these homes and businesses continue to be identified, the information will be turned over to the appropriate authorities for possible prosecution, which upon conviction could include fines and jail time. "Comcast is dedicated to providing our customers with industry-leading service and access to the most innovative products and technology," said Barbara A. Gehrig, Senior Vice President for Comcast's Maryland/Delaware Region. "We do not like getting into the business of prosecuting cable thieves, and that is why we are partnering with prosecutors across Maryland and Delaware to offer this amnesty program that will allow people to turn themselves in with absolutely no questions asked. "Unfortunately, there will be individuals who do not take advantage of the amnesty program. We will find out who is receiving illegal service during our house-to-house audit in all of our service areas. If those individuals are still receiving illegal service at the end of the amnesty program, we will be turning their names over to the appropriate authorities," added Gehrig. Cable theft across Maryland and Delaware costs local governments and municipalities millions of dollars in lost revenue each year. Additionally, illegal cable hook-ups create signal leakage that, if collectively strong enough, can affect communications including those used by aircraft. People illegally receiving cable television service also disrupt the cable signal in their communities so that law-abiding, paying customers may experience decreased picture quality on their televisions. According to the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), the cable industry loses nearly $6.6 billion each year in unrealized revenue because of theft. The $6.6 billion does not include the unauthorized reception of pay- per-view programming. Nearly 80 percent of all illegal devices used for cable piracy are capable of receiving pay-per-view services, and if that lost revenue was incorporated into the $6.6 billion lost then that number would be significantly higher. The latest amnesty period comes on the heels of a major investigation that led to the arrest of a number of family members in a Pikesville home. The high-profile nature of that case led Comcast officials to the decision to offer this amnesty program to give the public the chance to legally come forward and turn themselves in before another round of prosecutions begins. Any persons currently facing cable theft charges from local authorities are not eligible for the amnesty program. Those persons currently under investigation by Comcast for suspected cable theft are eligible for the amnesty program. However, once criminal charges are filed against an individual who was receiving unauthorized service then that person is not eligible for the amnesty program. The amnesty program does not waive past due balances for paying customers. About Comcast Cable Headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast Cable is a division of Comcast Corporation, a developer, manager and operator of broadband cable networks and provider of programming content. Operating in 17 of the United States' 20 largest metropolitan areas, Comcast is one of the leading communications, media and entertainment companies in the world. Providing basic cable, Digital Cable, high-speed Internet and telephone services, Comcast is the company to look to first for the communications products and services that connect people to what's important in their lives. The company's 55,000 employees, in six divisions, serve more than 21 million customers. Comcast Cable serves approximately 800,000 customers in Maryland and Delaware. Comcast, whose Maryland/Delaware Region offices are located in White Marsh, Maryland, employs more than 3,000 people in the Maryland/Delaware Region.