WASHINGTON – Cable customers who lost their service this winter thinking it was due to a power outage may have thieves to blame.
Attached to power poles throughout Northern Virginia, batteries kept going missing; in Reston, in Fair Oaks, in Sully.
“Over the past year and a half, we noticed there was a spike in the number of batteries missing from some of our power supplies,” says Jessica Carver with Cox Communications.
Carver says the 80-pound batteries act as generators to keep the area cable service on when the power goes out.
“There were around 183 that were stolen,” says Lucy Caldwell, with the Fairfax County police.
The cable company turned their internal investigation over to police in late January, but police say they were concerned not only about the company’s loss but about the safety hazard of removing the utility batteries.
“This is a dangerous crime and people can get hurt,” Caldwell says. She says detaching the batteries takes electrical know-how and without it can pose a significant personal risk.
“People are using these types of things to sell for scrap metal and make money,” she says.
After the call went out to county officers to keep an eye out for suspicious activity surrounding the missing batteries, an officer on a routine traffic stop made an interesting discovery.
“During that stop he noticed there were these large batteries in the vehicle,” she says.
Edwin Price, 44, and Jason Drobnoek, 29, of Pennsylvania are facing multiple charges for the thefts, including grand larceny, stolen property with intent to sell and false identification.