A 36-year-old Balsam Grove, North Carolina man facing 47 charges in Henderson County, North Carolina, also faces eight more charges in Buncombe County as investigators look into incidents of coaxial cable theft from cell towers.
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that Vincent DePaul was accused of stealing transmission lines from cell phone towers.
After a month-long investigation, working with AT&T asset protection, charges filed by Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office include:
- Two counts of injury to utility wire
- Two counts of felony larceny
- Two counts of obtaining property by false pretense
- Two counts of first-degree trespass
AT&T sites seemed to have been targeted
The unsettling pattern of AT&T site targeting raises the specter of whether DePaul possessed insider knowledge of the company’s cell sites in North Carolina. This disturbing possibility is reinforced by his choice of targets, and it ultimately led to his apprehension in Henderson County.
In a press release, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office announced on January 4, 2024, that the department received a report on December 5, 2023, about AT&T copper being stolen. As the investigation continued, detectives made note of a suspect that had been observed on video surveillance in Asheville, then later observed at another AT&T site in a different county.
Once detectives identified the suspect as DePaul, “they were able to link ten other cases that dated back to May 19, 2023,” the statement said.
DePaul “was arrested while committing one of the crimes,” on December 15, 2023, the sheriff’s office said, adding that he was charged with the following in Henderson County:
- Ten counts of injury to utility wire and fixtures
- Nine counts of larceny
- Ten counts of 1st-degree trespass
- Nine counts of obtaining property by false pretense
- Nine counts of possession of stolen property
DePaul was taken to the Henderson County Detention Center and given a $810,000 bond. The sheriff’s office said he also has a hold from New York for the same type of charges with full extradition. He remains as an inmate in the detention center.
As of December 1 2023, NC State Legislature changed the offense of injury to Utility Wire to a Class “C” Felony. Class C felonies are punishable by a standard prison sentence of 5 to 12 years and a maximum punishment of 19 years.
In 2022, as reported by Wireless Estimator, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office charged 12 people in a cell site transmission line copper theft ring after a lengthy investigation. The damage was estimated to be worth $331,000.