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Theft Of Cell Tower Battery Packs Could Lead To Chaos During Power Outage

MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Police are trying to crack down on crooks who made off with stolen batteries from cell phone towers in Mahwah.

As CBS2's Erin Logan reported, the crime going on at the base of cell phone towers doesn't look like one, but crooks posing as contractors are stealing 12 volt battery packs.

"They go in, they're familiar with the settings. They go in and they remove the lock from the cabinet," Detective Sergeant Kevin Hebeert said.

Mahwah Police said it happened on April 12, at two locations -- one of which has towers used by Sprint and Verizon.

"They take them and they get paid by the pound from scrap yards, and lead right now is $1.08 per pound," Hebeert said.

One battery weighs 40-lbs. The thieves stole 64 in Mahwah -- that comes out to more than $2,700.

Police said it could be months before they even realize the batteries have been stolen. When the padlocked cabinets are opened up an alarm goes off -- in this case to Verizon -- but the thieves put electrical tape over the connector to stop it.

"He probably worked for a contractor that worked on some of the cell towers in the past," Hebeert said.

Police have touched base with scrap yards, but have yet to locate the batteries.

When power is lost during a storm, the batteries are used as a backup. If the batteries are missing, customers could lose coverage -- in an emergency, that could create a nightmare situation.



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