|Two stripped copper from cell tower|
|The Press - News|
|Written by The Press|
|Thursday, 22 December 2011 10:56|
The Baker County sheriff’s department sent out a regional advisory this week following the arrest of two High Springs, FL men for stealing thousands of dollars worth of copper tubing from a cellular phone tower west of Sanderson.
Police suspect the pair likely is responsible for similar thefts in Florida and elsewhere, according to Investigator Steve Harvey.
Timothy Jackson and Justin Wacasey, both 24, were caught by a patrolling deputy as they exited an access road near the tower about 4 am on December 17.
Deputy Patrick McGauley pulled over their 1997 Ford pickup in the lot of the nearby Citgo station because its trailer had no license tag, and noticed the trailer was laden with “a large amount of rubber-coated copper tubing and several metal parts.”
The occupants appeared nervous during questioning and said they were contractors returning from a tower job in Duval County. They gave differing versions, however, as to why they were exiting the nearby access road to US 90 from the tower owned by Jacksonville Cellular.
Mr. Jackson maintained they were surveying the Sanderson tower for a future job; Mr. Wacasey said they turned onto the dirt road to secure their trailer load.
Deputy McGauley said he left the suspects with Deputy Tony Norman and went back to the tower, located about 50 yards north of the pavement and east of the I-10 overpass. There he found gates open and metal debris strewn on the ground, and noted that a large amount of tubing was missing from mounts traveling up the tower.
Questioned further, the suspects admitted to stripping the tubing from the tower, and Mr. Jackson told the officers they had been at the site since about 10 o’clock the previous evening.
There was no immediate value estimate on the purloined copper and other metal being hauled away in the trailer, nor of the cost of replacing it. A telephone number for Jacksonville Cellular was not in service early this week, and it was also not known how the vandalism affected the tower’s relay capacity.
The tower services the AT&T network.
Though thefts of copper from air conditioners have been common in Baker County in recent years, this is the first tower-related case.
One of the suspects told police he at one time worked on a tower crew and Investigator Harvey said this week the advisory also went over to Alabama where the suspects once resided.
The suspects were booked at county jail for grand theft, felony criminal mischief, armed felony trespass because a .357 magnum pistol was under the seat in the pickup, and larceny.
They were released on recognizance bonds on December 18.
|Last Updated on Friday, 23 December 2011 12:52|