Security Watch - The
The continuing theft of
copper and ground systems has become a major security issue for
broadcasters. Could this happen to you? A special threat: theft of
auxiliary antenna coax and parts.
This is a serious issue and by highlighting it, we hope to help
stations begin to fight it more effectively. One resource is
scraptheftalert.com - a
scrap metal industry site. If your site is targeted, it might be good to
let them know. Another general site regarding copper thefts is at
Some reports, some efforts, and some
- 10/14/14 - A Texas
man was sentenced to
10 years for copper theft and is required to pay $163k
to victims of up to two dozens thefts from communications
towers this year. Three others are involved in what
prosecutors define as "organized criminal activity."
- 7/4/14 - A gruesome
scene and a nasty way to go. Tucson Police found a body,
apparently electrocuted, in a manhole. The autopsy, which
will apparently require dental records or DNA to identify
the individual, indicates the body has
been in the manhole for two years.
- 5/29/14 - The leader
of a copper theft ring gets just
2.5 years in $80 million theft.
- 5/29/14 - Copper
thefts slow a bit when prices decline.
- 3/13/14 - Apparently
it was not the amount of copper stolen - the station says it
was worth less than $1.00 - but where it was. According to
the station manager,
KLOG, in Kelso, WA,was knocked off the air most all day
Wednesday, and it will take $1500 to repair the cuts made by
- 2/7/14 -
The value of surveillance cameras: A 23-year-old man was
arrested after breaking into a transmitter site and stealing
copper and other equipment at WLTX, Columbia, SC
- It is not just in the USA. Thieves
looking for copper cut enough fiber cable to leave large
areas of London (UK) without broadband Internet service,
some for more than three days. Some 37,000 customers were
said to be affected. (Thanks, Randall
- WSGS-FM in Hazard, KY was among stations
affect when theives took copper. The
thefts and outages were repeated the next day.
KMBI in Spokane, WA was knocked off the air when thieves
stole copper from the station.
- Station KMPH in
Modesto, CA was off the air this morning
after vandals cut through the fence and grabbed "all
wires leading into the radio station were cut."
- 8/15/13 - The
theft of a large section of copper and fiber cut at
least eight California departments off from their websites
and email. The state continues to be in the top five
locations for copper theft.
- Sacramento, CA has
become one of the first cities in the country to
"brand" their copper wire, to make felony convictions of
thieves easier. Last year, the city had 24 felony copper
theft convictions, which caused some
$1.68 Million in theft
damage. Now, with special cable and covers the city hopes to
be more efficient in finding and prosecuting thieves and
reduce the problem - now happening, on average, every two to
Three Asheville, NC area men have now been
arrested for "stealing
the parts from a WKJV tower, then trying to sell them
for cash." According to local news reports, the value of the
"parts" - most likely copper - taken from the AM religious
station was $25k. (Blaine Thompson)
It will be
ten years behind bars for a Florida man who stole copper
from WJAQ Radio in Marianna, Florida. Marianna is on I-10,
70 miles west of Tallahassee. The cops caught up with Robert
Scott, Jr. quickly, saying that the copper he stole only had one use.
The station was reported off the air for about 12 hours
until repairs could be made.
KWWK, Rochester, MN was knocked off the air due to
A copper theft at a church
spectacular surprise for the thieves.
Arizona Department of Public
Safety officers have uncovered a
theft of copper plates worth $1.5 million. $300,000 of
the four-foot square plates were recovered in Tucson, with
another $1.25 million in plates found at the Port of Los
Angeles, ready to ship to China. A total of 464 plates were
recovered, but another 240 plates are missing, and may have
already gone overseas.
Ohio couple were charged by the US Attorney with
the malicious destruction of
federally-licensed communications lines.
The two had "willfully and maliciously
destroyed and removed copper material from four
radio-station towers" belonging to Radio One. According to
the indictment, some $125,000 in damages were caused.
10/18/12 - Amarillo Texas is
the latest location where copper theft has become a problem.
According to reports, three stations have been hit in
the past two weeks. (BT)
7/17/12 - A scrapyard
employee reported to the Sheriff's Department that
a man in Hazard, KY stole a piece of an antenna belonging to
WSGS Radio. The station was preparing to install the new
antenna. According to the statement given, the $100 piece
removed made the entire $50,000 antenna worthless (those are
the station's figures... so please do not write just to tell
me that figure is a bit outrageous!).
6/11/12 - Most crooks are
not so smart as they think - if thinking is what you call it.
It was an interesting vehicle picked for the getaway car. Click on the picture for a larger view - and just
imagine driving down the road and
seeing this car in the next lane. (Please - put down
coffee cup first.)
5/15/12 - You may have
suspected so. We know there are thieves who target
broadcasters - but a "new" scheme is being repeated in
several places, like Bowling Green County, KY. Auxiliary
transmission lines are being targeted (See
2/10/12 below) - which normally means some "knows"
something about a site.
On May 2nd,
one of sevearl recent thefts of an auxiliary line was
noticed - it could have been several months since the actual
theft. The thief climbed up 150 feet to take the coax from
Another report from May 1 includes transmission lines,
pipes, elbows, etc. The value of loss runs into tens of
thousands of dollars. If you know of any such thefts,
let us know and also alert
the scrap metal
4/30/12 - In what may
be the first test of the West Virginia law to make copper
theft a felony,
two men were charged with taking 1300 feet of copper wire.
Charges include disruption of public services. According to
police, the two were just released from jail for a similar
4/29/12 - Copper
thieves stole piping in a fountain at Gerald Ford's
Birthsite in Omaha, NE.
4/24/12 - A theft of
cable in San Diego County, CA, left
two sheriff's substations, a Department of Defense facility,
and 10 million people without communication for up to 17
hours. It only took about 75 feet of fiber optic and six
feet of copper cable (600 pair) to cause the outage.
4/17/12 - A man was
electrocuted stealing copper from a power pole in the
city of Fontana, CA.
4/12/12 - The Kentucky
HB390 was signed into law.
4/7/12 - Police have
arrested two men in southern Minnesota for stealing the
copper at KIMT-TV, and causing as much as $500,000 damage.
(see 2/10/12 below)
4/5/12 - Police have
arrested and prosecutors have charged
Ary (three stories are linked) of stealing over $137,000
of copper and other items while working for Cumulus.
3/31/12 - Police
reported $30k worth of copper was taken from the
WBRD site in West Palmetto, FL. The site is owned by
Clear Channel, which has an FM located there.
3/27/12 - The Kentucky
HB390 was sent to Governor Beshear. His signature is
3/22/12 - The Kentucky
Senate has passed a Bill to match the House Bill 390 (below
2/24/12) and sent it back to the House with an Amendment.
3/20/12 - Ohio has
passed a bill to require photographs of copper sellers.
Another set of laws in Cincinnati is under attack as
requiring too much paperwork from small businesses. Ohio is
reported to lead the country in insurance claims for loss of
copper and other metals. Texas is ranked second, then
Georgia, California, and Illinois. Many of the major market
cities also top the list. According to the National
Insurance Crime Bureau, reported claims jumped 81% in the
latest three-year period.
Tucson copper theft problem has caused over $1 million
damages over the past five years to city lights and parks
alone. According to the city,
some success has been achieved with new locking devices.
2/29/12 - The Kentucky House has
passed HB390 and sent it to the senate.
2/24/12 - Kentucky has begun
considering a Bill, House Bill 390 that would crack down on
copper and metal theft.
The current version of the Bill is located here.
2/20/12 - The Washington State
Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on
HB 2570 regarding metal theft. The bill sets up a task
force to come up with recommendations to the 2013
Legislature for combatting metal theft. The bill provides
that one of the members of the task force is to be from the
AM/FM broadcasting industry.
2/18/12 - Officials in Fremont, CA
are seeking help to combat the problem, as they
reported about $460k of copper was stolen in the past
2/15/12 - WZRK(AM), Lake Geneva, WI
reported to the FCC that they had been hit twice, as they
asked for an STA to remain silent for a few months.
The man who
stole copper from power poles and two radio stations (see 11/9/11
and 9/9/11 below)
has pled guilty to damaging an energy facility. Jeffrey Blake faces
a sentence of up to 20 years and $250k in fines for that, the count
relating to obstucting the EAS was dropped as part of the plea.
A Mason City, IA TV station
reported that they were
hit by copper thieves this week. Taken from KIMT's transmitter site
was over 700 feet of 3-inch copper lines from the building and up the
tower. The first guess from the station manager was the the thieves
were somewhat knowledgeable, as they left the STL dish alone, and may
have taken only auxiliary lines.
WV Delegate Gary Howell,
R-Mineral, has announced plans
to submit a Bill
to the WV legislature to make copper theft a felony.
Florida officals report that
a Daytona Beach station,
WPUL, was knocked off the air for about a day, after thieves stole
about 50 feet of copper.
The man who knocked KRPS
and KKOW off the air in September (see 9/9/11 below) has been
indicted on federal charges.
Jeffrey Blake, 39, was charged with one count of attempted damage to a
communications system at Weir, KS, and one count of attempted damage
to an energy facility.
The US Attorney noted that KKOW was part of the EAS. Blake was also
charged with other damage, to a local electrical utility. The
potential sentence is 10 years in prison and $250k for the damage to
Two Pittsburg, Kansas stations
were taken off the air when
copper thieves knocked down a utility pole and stole copper wiring
in the middle of the night from a site in Weir, KS. KKOW and KRPS were
taken down on Wednesday. The stations got back up after repairs.
8/31/11 - WVOW,
Logan, WV, returned to the air today. The station was knocked off the
air when thieves recently stole 150 feet of telephone lines in the
city, killing the WVOW program loop. Logan has been afflicted by
repeated large copper theft problems, which
recently resulted in the arrest of at least seven people, charged
with causing nearly a half million dollars in losses. Cellular and
landline service was also affected.
7/16/11 - Utilities
are starting to become more aggressive in dealing with copper theft.
Noting that over 48,000 thefts occurred at utility substations, Puget
Sound Energy has announced a new
video motion detection security system to try to get police to
sites before the damage is done.
Check out this video from the San Francisco Bay area. In one city,
300 power poles have been knocked down in less than six
months - an average of close to two a day! Notice that they
indicate that it takes an average of $500 to repair what the
crooks sell for a buck or so.
Watch: WNDB, Daytona
Beach, FL was reported to have suffered as much as
$10k damage and knocked off the air for eight hours last
week by copper thieves.
KSL in Salt Lake City
hit by thieves looking for copper and other valuables. You can
surveillance video as two men break into the transmitter site and
take what was estimated by a station engineer as $30k in wire, tools,
A broadaster's nightmare: Burglars
carted off WCYC-LP's studio gear in London, OH.
However, the station was back up in less than 498 hours after police, investigating a pair of
stolen vehicles, were led to an apartment where the $3,000-4,000 of
broadcast gear was taken.
Ocean City, NJ had some folks ready to grab their ground system.
A good neighbor saw it and reported it to police, who
arrested a couple of would-be thieves. The station GM wrote to us
and said: "Fortunately State Police said they were thwarted before they
completely even started their damage. Fortunately, the tower is in a
residential area and the neighbors watch very carefully. The two dudes
were criminally charged."
Two stations were knocked off
the air in two days when their transmitter sites were broken
into and hit by vandals. On Sunday Jan 16th, the
antenna tuning unit for WROD
(AM 1340), Daytona Beach, FL was smashed by vandals.
Repairs got WROD back on the following day.
On Monday Jan 17th, a
transmitter was taken from the
WHKO (FM 99.1)site (co-located with WHIO-TV). WHKO moved to operations
from their auxiliary site. Not long after, police arrested several
people, as they tried to sell the transmitter at a scrap yard.