Copper thieves also targeting telecom towers
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.