Charges have been filed or are being sought against 11 people in connection with the theft of large cell phone batteries, resulting in $1 million in losses and creating a danger to 911 emergency service, reported KSL.com.
Beginning in 2017, Comcast alpha-cell batteries began disappearing. “These thefts posed a direct threat to the safety of the public. If the power goes out, they ensure the public can still call 911 in case of an emergency.
Without the batteries in place, people may not be able to reach first responders in a time of need,” said West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku.
The big break came when an alert citizen was able to take a picture of a person stealing batteries from a utility box, reported KSL.com. West Valley police detectives were able to find that man, make an arrest, and based on that arrest, “were able to develop extensive information about suspects and suspect vehicles.”
In August 2018, investigators placed batteries with GPS tracking devices at various locations across Utah. “The GPS trackers on the batteries allowed Comcast personnel to identify when a battery was being removed from its power source, as well as provide the ability to follow the battery’s physical location,” police said.
As U.S. marshals followed the GPS batteries, it resulted in the recovery of some of the stolen batteries and the discovery of where batteries were being sold as scrap metal, according to court documents.