Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thieves Take Circuit Boards, Knock out Telephone Service

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thieves Take Circuit Boards, Knock out Telephone Service

Article excerpt


About 700 AT&T customers in Mandarin were affected early Monday when someone stripped a telephone switching station box in the 2900 block of Plummer Cove Road.

But they weren't the only customers affected by thieves stealing circuit boards.

Someone stole 11 circuit boards the same day from an AT&T substation in the 2200 block of Florida 13 in Northwest St. Johns County. And Jacksonville Sheriff's Office records indicate four similar burglaries in the past months, an estimated quarter-million dollars-plus worth of boards stolen.

AT&T officials don't know why anyone would want these circuit boards, although comments from an AT&T technician in the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office report indicate the thieves want the trace gold in them. As they work with police to stop the thefts, AT&T spokeswoman Gretchen Schultz said this kind of theft hasn't been a problem elsewhere, yet.

"We really can't speculate on why someone would target them. There are minimal amounts of copper and other metals in the boards," she said from Orlando. "It seems to be isolated. There have been a handful in the Jacksonville area, and we are not aware of them in other areas."

But since an alarm sounds any time one of these circuit boxes is opened, Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Melissa Bujeda asks residents to call the Sheriff's Office if they hear one go off.

"It's not only a theft but also a disruption of services," she said. "It is definitely something we are looking into and are asking the public for any help they might have or any knowledge of who is doing this."

Monday's first theft was reported at 5 a.m. at the switching station on Plummer Cove Road, when an AT&T technician responding to an alarm discovered someone had used a special wrench to unlock its door, then stole 10 circuit packs after cutting fiber optic and metal wires to get to them, according to police. …

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