Transmitters are the target of copper thieves once again, this time the target was a high-voltage television transmitter at KMBC in Kansas City.  The copper thieves managed to temporarily knock KMBC off the air for some Kansas City viewers, but within an hour KMBC had switched to an auxiliary transmitter with less power than the one that’s sidelined.

The thieves hit the transmitter on Sunday night, cutting through a large section of a 2-inch conduit copper pipe before running away, leaving green coolant everywhere. They almost made it through another copper pipe before running off. KMBC general manager Wayne Godsey says the theft involved less than $10,000 in damage, although pointed out the thieves could have been seriously injured by 35,000 volts of electricity or scalding hot liquid that flows through the pipes. “The risk they took was not just getting caught by the authorities. They risked serious-and perhaps fatal-injuries. It was incredibly dangerous,” he said.

A gauge that detected the sudden loss in water pressure shut down the transmitter. If not, the damage to the site could have been up to $100,000.

One thing Agresti is sure of: Either the robbers knew exactly what they were doing or were incredibly brazen.

KMBC’s transmitter thievery was previously reported in the Kansas City Star, which says the crooks may be looking at federal charges. “If it’s maliciously done with the intent of damaging the tower, that is a federal criminal offense,” said communications lawyer Erwin G. Krasnow of the Washington, D.C., firm Garvey Schubert Barer.

Over the years LBA has reported on several major copper thefts from transmitters and towers such as:

Copper Theft on the Rise – Threatening Situation for an Alabama Engineer

Not Just the Copper – They Stole the Whole Tower!

Defeating AM Ground System Copper Thieves

LBA Technology can supply a large selection of copper strap and tubing for the installation or renovation of RF systems.


About The Author

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LBA Group, Inc. has 60 years of experience in providing RF asset solutions and risk management for industrial and telecommunications infrastructure assets.The group is comprised of LBA Technology, a leading manufacturer and integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial and government users worldwide; the professional consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates and LBA University, providing on-site and online professional training.The companies are based in Greenville, N.C., USA.

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