Battery Theft Disrupted Cell Phone Systems, Hillsborough Deputies Say
A Ruskin man admitted stealing the batteries from Verizon and T-Mobile cell phone towers and selling them at local metal recycling facilities, Hillsborough deputies said.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – A Ruskin man is facing 33 charges in connection with the thefts of batteries from Verizon and T-Mobile cell phone towers, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
William Jay Bingham, 40, of Ruskin, was charged with eight counts of grand theft, seven counts of dealing in stolen property, eight counts of false verification of ownership to a metal recycler, six counts of interfering with utilities – theft of copper or other nonferrous metals, and four counts of burglary of a structure.
Deputies said that, on Nov. 27, Bingham entered the secured cell phone tower area at 9855 Lula St. in Gibsonton by putting the code into the locked perimeter fence. Once inside the gate, Bingham used a code to open a Verizon outbuilding. Bingham entered a secure building and took 30 batteries that powered the Verizon cellular signal for that specific tower. This caused a brief interruption to the cellular network, including the 9-1-1 system. Bingham then sold the batteries, valued at about $12,000 total, to a metal recycling facility.
On Dec. 8, Bingham entered the secured cell phone tower area at 1507 21st Ave. SE in Ruskin by putting the code into the locked perimeter fence. Once inside the gate, he entered a secured Verizon outbuilding and took 30 Northstar batteries that powered the Verizon cellular signal for that specific tower, deputies said. This caused a brief interruption to the cellular network, which included the 9-1-1 system. The batteries were valued at about $12,000.
Bingham then entered a T-Mobile outbuilding. Once inside, he removed eight back-up batteries valued at about $2,000.
Deputies said Bingham sold the batteries at a metal recycling yard.
Bingham admitted stealing the batteries and selling them at local metal recycling companies. Deputies said he also admitted stealing batteries at cell tower sites in Tampa, and in Polk, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Additional charges are pending. Deputies said they are closing in on other suspect(s) who they believe are involved.
For information about the Hillsborough sheriff, go to hcso.tampa.fl.us.
Hillsborough Sheriff | Crime | Cell Tower Batteries | Arrests | Tampabay News
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