Cop­per thieves also tar­get­ing tele­com tow­ers

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION - HANK DANISZEWSKI

LON­DON, ONT. Elec­tri­cal sta­tions, parks — even grave sites.

Cop­per thieves have gone af­ter all kinds of tar­gets in South­west­ern On­tario, some­times risk­ing their lives in search of scrap metal to sell.

Now, you can add to that list of preyed-upon ob­jects the backup bat­ter­ies that keep cel­lu­lar tow­ers work­ing and your smart­phone calls com­ing through.

Tele­com tow­ers have been tar­geted in a rash of break-ins and thefts in the re­gion, in Mid­dle­sex, Ox­ford and Brant coun­ties. On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing four in­ci­dents in­volv­ing the theft of backup bat­ter­ies and cop­per wire that took place in the last few weeks.

Thieves sal­vage the cop­per and other com­po­nents in the bat­ter­ies and wiring, said OPP Sgt. Dave Rek­tor.

And in a twist that might sur­prise some, the acid in the bat­ter­ies also has an at­trac­tion — it can be used in drug pro­duc­tion, Rek­tor noted.

For the pub­lic, such van­dal­ism and theft is wor­ry­ing be­cause the backup bat­ter­ies en­sure cel­lu­lar sys­tems keep work­ing dur­ing ma­jor storms that cause power fail­ures.

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

But such thiev­ery is also es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous for the crim­i­nals, who face a high risk of elec­tro­cu­tion.

Cop­per is an es­pe­cially juicy tar­get for thieves, since it finds a ready mar­ket in all kinds of in­dus­tries in­clud­ing for elec­tron­ics.

Po­lice are ask­ing metal re­cy­clers and elec­tri­cal dis­posal busi­nesses to be vig­i­lant and to alert au­thor­i­ties if they spot any­thing sus­pi­cious.

They’re 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 on­line at catchcrooks.com.

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