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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cell tower break in

Two Kanawha County men have been arrested after Fayette County authorities say they broke into a cell phone tower site and stole copper wire.

Michael Jarrell, 23, and Steven Little, 25, both of Gallagher, were charged with breaking and entering, grand larceny and destruction of property with a value greater than $2,500, Sheriff Steve Kessler said. Jarrell was held at Southern Regional Jail on $15,000 bond. Little was released on $15,000 bond.

At 1:55 a.m. Monday, a break-in at a U.S. Cellular tower on Paint Creek Road, near Mossy, was reported, Kessler said. According to the preliminary investigation, those responsible accessed the facility by cutting through a security fence. They then forced their way into a buildings and cut several lengths of electrical wire. Damage at the tower site was more than $3,000.

Deputy W.K. Willis checked the area for potential suspects and made contact with two people who had copper wire in their vehicle, Kessler said. He was able to find out the pair had rented a room at the Midway T&C Motel in Mossy the previous evening.

Kessler said deputies executed a search warrant at the room and recovered a “substantial” quantity of copper wire and tools apparently used in the theft. Based on information gathered in the preliminary investigation, charges were filed against Jarrell and Little.

Kessler noted there are numerous reports of cellular tower site break-ins. Deputies have investigated two reported break-ins at a tower site in the Pea Ridge Road area of Oak Hill, and there have been several break-ins at sites in the Powellton area. He said people responsible for such crimes cost businesses a substantial amount of money and endanger public safety.

“When thieves target these cellular tower sites, they steal copper wire that they then sell for a few dollars at scrap metal dealers,” Kessler said. “These thefts cost the cellular companies thousands of dollars to repair the damages done by these thieves.

“In an age where more and more people are relying on cellular phones for all of their communication needs, this type of theft could easily result in the loss of someone’s life. Imagine the possibility of being unable to contact 911 to request an ambulance for a loved one because a thief has damaged a cellular tower to gain a few quick dollars.”


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