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1.) To prevent ingress from entering the system through an open port at the tap.
2.) To prevent signal reflections (which really isn't too big of a problem).
3.) To prevent cable theft.
Sometimes, you can find little mini-terminators that come with splitters (they look like little caps that just screw onto unused splitter ports). You can also buy packs of them at Radio Shack (last I checked, a 2 pack was $1.99).
All terminators essentially do the same thing, but they come in many different shapes and sizes.
For example, the ones that come with some splitters you can just unscrew with your fingers, but the ones that cable companies can ONLY be unscrewed using a special tool. These are VERY hard to get off without the tool, and usually you end up breaking off the tap port before you get the terminator off (I've done this ;).
Picture of the ones you can get a Radio Shack:
Picture of the ones that we use:
(Ignore the bent lead inside of it. ;)
I have found that the terminators the cable company use to prevent theft are called locking terminators.
Where can you purchase the tool to remove these terminators?