By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office detectives closed the year on a positive note after the arrest of a Riverview man suspected of stealing a large amount of cell tower batteries as well as for disrupting the emergency 911 system.
According to HCSO, William Jay Bingham, 40, of 409 York Dale Dr. in Ruskin, entered the
secured cell phone tower grounds located at 9855 Lula St. in Gibsonton.
Detectives said that Bingham put the code into the locked perimeter fence; once inside the gate, he used a code to open a Verizon outbuilding then entered a secure building and removed 30 batteries that powered the Verizon cellular signal for that specific tower.
“The removal of the batteries caused a brief interruption to the cellular network to include the 911 system,” said HCSO Public Information Officer Colonel Larry McKinnon.“
The batteries’ total value was estimated at approximately $12,000 and sold by Bingham at a metal recycling facility, officials said.
McKinnon added that during a post-Miranda interview, Bingham admitted to stealing the batteries and selling them at local metal recycling companies.
Bigham also admitted to stealing batteries at cell tower sites in Tampa, Polk County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, Hernando County, Manatee County and Sarasota County.
Upon his arrest, Bingham was charged with: Grand Theft (eight counts); Dealing in Stolen Property (seven counts); False Verification of Ownership to a Metal Recycler (eight counts); Interfering with Utilities – Theft of Copper or other Nonferrous Metals (six counts); and Burglary of a Structure (four counts).
“Additional charges are pending,” McKinnon said, adding that detectives are closing in on other suspects whom they believe are also involved.
Bingham was arrested without incident and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail.
Visit Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, at www.HCSO.tampa.fl.us.