Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Nearly $58K in backup batteries stolen from Bucks County cell towers

Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015
Thieves have a new target: backup batteries at cellphone towers.

Police in Bucks County and across the Philadelphia region are reporting a recent explosion in backup-battery thefts. Thieves have stolen at least 150 of the commercial batteries worth nearly $58,000 in at least five Lower Bucks towns.

Communities as far away as Lancaster and Berks counties are reporting the thefts as well, which appear to target Alcatel Lucent batteries on Sprint properties, according to police and news reports.
The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching a regional Sprint representative for comment about the thefts.
Backup batteries — which can weigh more than 100 pounds — are used as standby power when electricity goes out, so customers don’t lose service and communication systems can continue to operate. It’s unclear how thieves are using the batteries, though they contain lead and other metals that could be sold to scrap dealers. Plus, the cases are worth about $100, according to one local police chief.
Since the beginning of the year, Bristol Township has received six reports of battery thefts, the most recent last month in the 2500 block of Durham Road, where 16 backup batteries worth $4,500 were reported stolen, Acting Police Chief Ralph Johnson said.
In the Bristol Township cases, the thefts are believed to have occurred sometime after October and November, which was the last time the cellphone tower sites were inspected, Johnson said. Other towns also have placed the time frame for the thefts as far back as October.
Police in Bristol Township and other communities where the thefts have occurred reported no signs of forced entry into the fenced, tower properties where the batteries are stored.
Last month, a Sprint subcontractor reported $5,500 worth of backup batteries stolen from a Sprint cabinet in Newtown Township, police said. The contractor reported he last saw the batteries in July. The combination lock for the cabinet containing the batteries was found at the scene, police said.
Three of the five cellphone towers in Lower Southampton have been hit, according to Lt. Ted Krimmel. The thefts may have occurred months earlier, but were only discovered in the last few months, he said. The total value of the 48 backup batteries stolen there is $14,500 Krimmel said.
Commercial backup batteries also have been stolen in Falls and Middletown.
Pennsylvania State Police in Lehigh County sent notices to police chiefs in Bucks and Montgomery counties, asking for help investigating the thefts, said Trooper Robert Deavers. Among the Lehigh thefts, 40 batteries were stolen from Sprint cell towers in Lower Macungie Township and 15 backup batteries were stolen from a tower in Upper Macungie.
Since state and local police started working together, they’ve counted hundreds of thefts from Sprint cell towers in southeastern Pennsylvania, according to Deavers. None of the batteries have been recovered. The trooper said investigators don’t know if an organized ring is involved in the thefts and he declined to reveal much about any similarities they’ve discovered in the wide-ranging thefts.

3 comments:



  1. Communities as far away as Lancaster and Berks counties are reporting the thefts as well, which appear to target Alcatel Lucent batteries on Sprint properties, according to police and news reports.
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