Thieves target cell tower in Prospect



PROSPECT — An AT&T cellphone tower was targeted by metal-seeking thieves Dec. 26 who were also found carrying a notebook showing other cellphone sites throughout the state.

The men had cut out and piled galvanized metal, 300 feet of copper wire and other items from the Cheshire Road tower by the time police intervened.

By then, the damage to the site was estimated to be in the thousands, but it’s unclear if the incident disrupted cellphone service to customers.

Kurt Hurlburt, 38, and Rodney Henderson, 40, both of Willimantic, were detained after tripping an alarm at the cell tower site at about 1 p.m.

State and Prospect police responded to the alarm to find the men walking down a hill near the site with wire cutters. Nearby, police found a 2003 Toyota Avalon parked near an access road for the tower.

The men, dressed in jeans and sweatshirts, told police they worked for a contracting company that was working on towers in the state, but they couldn’t recall the phone number for their employer, nor was their car marked with a company logo.

Inside the fenced-in area of the cell site, police found a large pile of copper wire and “bus” bars — long pieces of galvanized metal that help ground the antenna — piled nearby. Each of the bars was used by wireless carriers, such as Verizon and Metro PCS, that rented space on the tower, according to police.

Inside the car, police found more than a hundred stainless steel bolts, along with wires and metal lug nuts used at the Prospect tower site and others in the state.

Police also confiscated a notebook from Hurlburt that showed a list of cell tower sites throughout the state, including several in New Haven that had been crossed off.

Hurlburt and Henderson denied being involved in any similar thefts in the state, but a trooper sent a statewide alert to other police agencies, notifying them about the theft.

Hurlburt and Henderson were charged with larceny in the third degree, criminal mischief and criminal trespass conspiracy to commit larceny in the third degree. They were being held on bonds totaling $45,000 and are due to appear in Waterbury Superior Court in January.