Copper theft has become a costly, pervasive problem for telcos as the price of precious metals has risen dramatically over the past few years. Most of the time, the perps get away with the crime, selling their bounty to scrap-metal yards or anyone who will take it.
It costs companies like AT&T and Verizon a lot of money to replace the wire, so much so that they often offer rewards that lead to the arrest of the suspects. The crime also puts residents in danger in the event they have an emergency and have no way of contacting authorities when their phone service is out. So you can imagine that it’s extra satisfying and extra disturbing to catch one of your own employees in the act.
In this case, it was actually a former employee: Police near New Orleans arrested a 30-year-old man who allegedly broke into an AT&T facility on 17 separate occasions, stealing equipment almost every time. Patrick Stewart no relation to the Star Trek actor (that we know of) has been committing the crimes since November, police say. He’s even accused of trying to assault a sheriff’s deputy who spotted him the storage yard last week.
Authorities believe Stewart sold the spools of copper to recycling business in the area, but don’t know what he did with the cash he received in exchange, the Times-Picayune reported. The perp last worked for AT&T four years ago.