Three tower technicians were arrested Wednesday in Wauchula, Fla., about three hours away from their Pompano Beach-based wireless construction company, MC Communications, Inc., when an alert American Tower Corporation employee found them stripping coaxial cable from his company’s guy tower.
According to the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office, the American Tower tech arrived at the site located eight miles east of Wauchula on Kelly Roberts Rd. to perform maintenance, a three-member crew was already there stripping wire.
At first it appeared that it might have been a routine de-commission since the three techs had a company vehicle and trailer on site.
However, when a crew member advised him they were there to remove all the out of service equipment from the tower, the tech said the way they were cutting and removing the cables was “not to industry standards.” He notified law enforcement of their activity.
Once officers arrived on scene it was determined the three individuals, Dustin Graham, 27, of Kettering, Ohio; Daniel Meza, 23, of Houston, Tex.; and Dallas Sawyer, 32, of Miramar, Fla. were all employed by the Pompano Beach company and were utilizing their work truck, trailer, and equipment.
Contact was made with the company representative that confirmed all three were scheduled to be off work on Wednesday. The representative also stated they would not have been sent to Wauchula from Pompano Beach to remove the equipment from the tower site.
Interviews were conducted and the three had travelled that morning from Pompano Beach with the intent to remove all the old unused coaxial cables from the tower.
Two of the individuals climbed the tower to cut cables that run from the antennas at the top of the tower down into the equipment shelter. The third person was on the ground cutting the cables into shorter pieces and loading them onto a trailer.
Information was obtained by authorities that this was not the only tower site the group had stolen from, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office.
The coax the techs allegedly stole belonged to legacy systems and did not interrupt carrier service.
Spokespersons for all the co-located carriers on the site said the total loss and damage was approximately $98,000.
A manager with the South Florida wireless contractor stated he was very disappointed in the employees and all have been terminated, according to authorities. They are cooperating with the investigation to determine if any other sites have been damaged. Arrangements are being made to recover their vehicle and equipment from the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office.