Police foiled a scheme to make off with a “massive amount” of copper from a Seal Beach cell tower Thursday, authorities said.
After an alarm went off at 4:12 a.m, the department dispatched officers to a Verizon cell tower at the corner of Aster Street and Almond Avenue, according to a release from the department.
When officers arrived, they saw several people moving in and out of the structure. Officers arrested a woman at the scene, but two other suspects fled the area on foot. Authorities did not identify the woman.
An investigation revealed thieves had broken into the tower, killed the power, stripped the copper wire from within and then bundled the metal for removal. Officers searched the area for other suspects and found none.
Following a similar theft in January the SBPD stepped up patrols in the area "to try catch them in the act," said Sgt. Raul Ahumada.
Ahumada said he didn't have word on how much the copper would have been worth, but he said the police were fortunate to get there in time.
“The crime scene was interrupted, so there were tools at the scene,” said Sergeant Raul Ahumada.
According to SBPD Detective Ron LaVelle, copper prices have more than doubled in the past two years, the theft of copper from telephone lines, electrical substations, highway infrastructure and residential homes has grown exponentially. LaVelle said the Department of Energy estimates copper wire theft costs the nation almost $1 billion per year.
Anyone with any information regarding this crime is asked to please contact Detective Joe Hardin 562/799-4100 extension 1109.