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      WPDE, WBTW towers targeted by copper thieves

      A car pulled up for the men to load the wire. / WPDE Security Cam

      Update: On 2-25-11, the Dillon County Sheriff's Office charged Thomas Leon Williams, of Fayetteville, NC, with Grand Larceny in connection with the copper theft. He is out of jail on bond as of 6-23-11.


      Three men stole cable and copper wire from WPDE NewsChannel 15's transmission tower on Pee Dee Church Road in Dillon County early Tuesday morning. WBTW's transmission tower was also hit.

      Surveillance images from WPDE's security cameras captured the thefts. Surveillance video of the theft is included with this story.

      According to WPDE Media Operations Manager Ben Brotherton, the men arrived on the property around 3:00 a.m. Tuesday. They drove up to the gate and pulled it apart until there was a gap large enough for them to fit through.

      The men walked around the tower, surveying the area. They located cable and two segments of copper transmission line.

      The men later slid the cable under the gate, then removed the gate from the hinges. They loaded the transmission line in their SUV and drove off. They were on the property for about 20 minutes.

      WBTW's transmission tower is less than a mile away from WPDE's. It was hit either right before or right after WPDE's.

      WPDE President and CEO Billy Huggins estimates the loss to WPDE at several thousand dollars. Huggins says a $2,000 reward is being offered by WPDE and WBTW for an arrest leading to the conviction of the suspects.

      If you have any information, contact us at the station at (843) 234-9733 x212 or contact Det. Shannon Grainger, Dillon County Sheriff's Office at 843-495-7359.