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$2 Million in Phone Equipment Stolen

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GARNER — An estimated $2 million in highly specializedtelephone equipment was stolen from three BellSouth sites from 10 p.m. tomidnight on Christmas Eve. Police say it might have been an inside job,since there was no sign of forced entries.

The equipment stolen, 140 circuit boards each worth more than $10,000, manages telephone network traffic. The thieves took only back-upcomponents, so that the main system was able to keep functioning.

Because the boards are about the size of a binder, the entire haulcould be toted away in a few duffel bags.

A BellSouth spokesman said the theft was carried out by someone "withspecialized technical knowledge."

BellSouth management was alerted as soon as the thefts occurred becausealarms indicated a malfunction in the system. When technicians arrived tocheck the problem, they realized components had been stolen.

The first theft occurred about 10 p.m. at an Adrian Drive building inGarner. This was followed by 11 p.m. activity at the Sunnybrook Roadoffice in Raleigh, and the final theft was just before midnight at a BellSouth building on Raleigh's New Hope Church Road.

Police said there is an active black market in such equipment and thatmany distributors don't ask about the origins of such components.

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