Copper thefts from radio transmitters and towers have continued to rise, paralleling the increasing value of copper. Last Wednesday, one such theft became a threatening situation for “Lite 96.9” WRSA-FM, Huntsville engineer John Macpherson and his teenage daughter. When the station went off the air around 4:45am that morning, Macpherson thought they were in for a routine fix. However, when they arrived at the tower site at Brindley Mountain, two burgulars allegedly were attempting to strip copper from the transmitter.

The burglars fled when Macpherson arrived. While trying to escape, the vandals fired multiple shots at Macpherson’s vehicle. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the transmitter suffered damages that kept WRSA-FM off the air for several hours. As authorities were arriving near the scene, the burglars began throwing stolen radio equipment at patrol cars and sped away. According to the Decatur Daily News, this isn’t the first time that WRSA-FM’s tower has been vandalized. In July, someone stole around $30,000 in cables, phone lines, copper wire and antenna parts from the tower.

In response to the late rise in copper theft, broadcasters must be more aware of and active towards site protection. Some suggestions to increase the security level of your site are to visit your transmitter site at least weekly and install alarm systems linked to remote control sites to notify others of unauthorized entry. Additionally, it is helpful to notify local law enforcement, neighbors, and nearby residents surrounding your site of the potential of criminal activity and ask them to keep an open eye for suspicious behavior.

About The Author

LBA Group, Inc. has 50 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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