ABILENE, Texas - Major cell phone service providers are reporting losses after thieves took thousands of dollars in copper from an Abilene cell phone tower.
AT&T, Verizon, Ericsson and Xanadu/T-Mobile reported someone broke in to the tower in the 2800 block of Vogel Avenue near Ortiz Elementary School and stole copper wiring.
"The victims involved in this investigation were hit Tuesday or Wednesday of last week where they're reporting approximately $10,000 in copper has been stolen," officer George Spindler said.
Police do not yet know who is responsible but the culprit(s) will face state jail felony theft and burglary charges if caught.
The reporting officer noted in the incident report that whoever stole from the tower could also be responsible for similar thefts outside of Abilene.
"Whenever these types of crimes happen we look to other jurisdictions to see what else is going on in the area," Spindler said. "If we can make a connection, then so be it. But that information has not been confirmed."
Spindler said copper theft is a common property crime. To track down stolen items, officers work closely with pawn shops and scrap metal yards through web database LeadsOnline.
According to a 2009-2011 National Insurance Crime Bureau study, Texas had the second highest number of metal theft claims. The study also noted 96 percent of claims for the top five reporting states included copper theft.
"We know that there is market value in copper just like there's market value involved in stolen merchandise like electronics," Spindler said. "People are going to do what they want to make a living if they think crime is the answer--which obviously it is not."
Anonymous tips about the case can be called in to Abilene Crime Stoppers at (325) 676-TIPS.
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