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Vandalism done at companies tops $100,000

By Staff | Jan 21, 2008

Faribault and Martin County authorities are investigating vandalism involving four telecommunication companies totaling more than $100,000.

Faribault County Sheriff Mike Gormley says deputies from both sheriff’s departments are investigating the case because three of the companies were in Martin County.

“They are exchanging information back and forth,” says Gormley.

Martin County sheriff’s deputy Jean Vath estimates damage to equipment owned by three communications companies in that county at $90,000.

Vath says county authorities are working together on the cases because they could be linked.

“There’s a similarity and pattern on how the vandalism was done … and because of the time frame involved,” she says.

Bevcomm president Bill Eckles says three remote communication sites that serve rural residents were damaged late Friday night, Jan. 11, or early Saturday morning. He estimates damage at $20,000.

“They provide phone and high speed Internet service,” Eckles says of the equipment vandalized.

Mike Springer, operations manager for Bevcomm, says the fiber optic transmission equipment is located in Pilot Grove, Jo Daviess and Blue Earth City townships.

“We had customers report outages. Whoever did this pried into the boxes and took a hammer to the electronics. It was some pretty rough stuff,” Springer says.

Springer estimates that 150 customers, including some in Kossuth County in Iowa, were without service. Eckles says a $20,000 reward is being offered to help catch those responsible.

“There was no 911 service available to our customers. It’s a pretty big deal,” adds Eckles.

In another vandalism case, authorities have charged two 17-year-old males — one from Blue Earth and another from Winnebago — in connection with shooting several windows at the Blue Earth Middle/Elementary School with a BB/pellet gun.

School officials reported the incident to the Blue Earth police on Dec. 19. Damage to the four windows is estimated to be more than $700.