Thieves targeting cellphone tower batteries

Originally posted by St. Thomas Times-Journal.
Author: Hank Daniszewski 

Telecom towers are being targeted in a rash of break-ins and thefts in Middlesex, Oxford and Brant counties.

OPP are investigating four incidents involving the theft of backup batteries and copper wire between Aug. 24 and Monday.

OPP Sgt. Dave Rektor said investigators can’t confirm if the incidents are related but he said the thefts pose a danger to the public.

The backup batteries ensure cellphone systems keep working during major storms that cause the power to go out, he said.

“People’s safety depend on the cellphones working so we can’t take any chances.”

Rektor said the thieves salvage and sell the copper and other components in the batteries and wiring. The acid in the batteries can also be used in drug production, he said.

Rektor said the thieves are facing a high risk of electrocution. In 2008 a man was electrocuted while trying to steal copper wire from a southeast London power station.

Police are asking metal recyclers and electrical disposal businesses to remain vigilant and contact them if they spot anything suspicious.

Police are also asking citizens who may have seen any suspicious activity around the four tower sites to contact them or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or at Telecom tower thefts On Thursday around 2 p.m. an alarm went off at the Bell Canada cellphone tower on Curry Road in South-West Oxford Township. Thieves removed a lock from a fence, pried opened the door of the main building and stole 16 batteries each valued at $10,000, Oxford OPP said.

On Monday, staff from Rogers Communications doing routine maintenance discovered a break-in at a cellphone tower on Clarke Road southwest of Woodstock near Highway 401. Thieves stole nine batteries after breaking locks on the fence and prying open a door to a building, police said. OPP said there had been an earlier warning because an alarm was triggered at that tower last Thursday about 3 p.m.

On Monday Brant OPP investigated a break-in at Global TV communication tower at 475 Ayr Road. Police said the thieves cut through a chain link fence and stole 15 metres of copper wire.

On Monday, Middlesex OPP responded to a report of a break-in at telecom tower on Adelaide Street North in Middlesex Centre. Police say the thieves cut through a fence and stole 16 12V volt batteries.

View the original article here.