Local News

$2 Million in Phone Equipment Stolen

Posted December 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— An estimated $2 million in highly specialized telephone equipment was stolen from three BellSouth sites from 10 p.m. to midnight 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-up components, so that the main system was able to keep functioning.

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

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

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

The first theft occurred about 10 p.m. at an Adrian Drive building in Garner. This was followed by 11 p.m. activity at the Sunnybrook Road office 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 that many distributors don't ask about the origins of such components.