Kimberly King, NBC 5 News
Thieves are breaking into Time Warner cable boxes stealing expensive batteries that could affect your ability to call 911.
Time Warner Cable is offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps them crack a string of equipment thefts.
The cable provider reports that about $1 million in batteries used to supply back-up power to equipment boxes that connect to power lines have been stolen. If the boxes lose power, customers can lose 911 access and other important services.
"When these batteries are not available, customers lose access to their 911, digital phone, and high speed internet," said G'Nai Blakemore with Time Warner. "We want to encourage people to look and see if someone looks out of place at one of these boxes."
That may be tough, investigators said, beecause in some cases the thieves are dressing up as cable repairmen so that they appear to be normal workers. The thieves have even been known to wear a hard hat and vest and sometimes even have a stolen Time Warner magnetic sticker on their vehicle.
But it's not just the loss of service Time Warner is worried about, it's the replacement cost of the stolen property that may trickle-down to customers, according to Grand Prairie Det. Lyle Gensler.
"If Time Warner loses a battery, it's going to cost them to replace it. If they lose money, they're going to pass that onto the consumer," said Gensler. "Over the last six months [Grand Prairie] has lost over $100,000 in property."
The batteries contain lead that can be sold to recycle yards for about $17 each. One box on Arkansas Lane had 21 of the 75-pound batteries stolen in the last several months.
Gensler said Time Warner has installed bars across some boxes to prevent the thefts.
Gensler added that two people have been arrested in Dallas in connection with the Grand Prairie thefts but that they are still actively searching for anyone else who may be involved.
Time Warner has already handed out a $10,000 reward to a tipster who helped them in another battery theft case.
Grand Prairie police are asking anyone who sees anything suspicious at a cable box to visit their website http://gpcrimestoppers.org or call 972-988-TIPS. Time Warner also has a way for people to submit tips: 1-888-824-8041 or email: Rtx.Security@twcable.com.
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