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Men posing as AT&T workers stole copper from Little Falls business, charges say

Copper thieves disguise themselves and take off with thousands of dollars from rural businesses
Copper thieves disguise themselves and take off with thousands of dollars from rural businesses 02:00

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. — Two men are accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of copper from a rural Minnesota business while posing as phone technicians.

The crew at Fallsnet know firsthand how much copper theft has increased recently. The Little Falls internet provider had to pay $5,000 to fix the damage of stolen equipment in two incidents last yaer.

"Most of the time, it's not for days, or even weeks later that, that you find that the stuff has been broken into and stuff that's missing," said Kenten Gangestad, co-owner of Fallsnet.

The crew installed motion sensing cameras on their tower, which alerted them to activity last week. Footage shows a man scoping out the site, while another removed the front license plate off a pickup truck before pulling it into the worksite. 

One of the men is seen wearing a hard hat with an AT&T logo. Police arrived on the scene and discovered the AT&T stickers on the men's trucks and hard hats were homemade fakes. 


The men were arrested and charged with burglary, but the damage had been done.

"This time, even though they got caught and got caught so quickly, it's going to be over $10,000 in damage that we're gonna have to repair," said Gangestad. 

Fallsnet hopes it is the last time they have to pay for a copper theft.

Over the weekend, a new state law passed requiring a license to sell copper. It's an effort by lawmakers to stop the problem before the consequences get worse.

"If they damage more expensive or other equipment on the tower, we could literally lose internet service to an entire town for a couple of days," said Gangestad. 

Beyond cost, lawmakers say darkened streets pose a safety issue for both drivers and pedestrians. 

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