Burglar knocked T-Mobile tower offline by stealing its wiring, prosecutors say

CHICAGO — Prosecutors say a Chicago man knocked a T-Mobile cellular tower out of service by stealing the tower’s metal wiring.

The phone carrier noticed that the tower at 63rd Street and St. Lawrence Avenue in Woodlawn went offline Sunday. A repair technician was sent out Monday to figure out what happened.

It didn’t take long for him to identify the problem.

When he opened a shed at the base of the tower, the tech found 66-year-old Jerome Simmons inside, cutting wires out of the phone system and stacking them up, prosecutors said.

Jerome Simmons and the T-Mobile cellular tower at 63rd and St. Lawrence. | Cook County sheriff’s office; Google

Upon seeing the technician, Simmons allegedly grabbed a stack of severed wires and walked out the door.

Chicago police found Simmons about a block away. They took him into custody and seized his wire cutters and the T-Mobile wiring, according to prosecutors.

Officials didn’t say what Simmons planned to do with the wires. But thieves sell metal wiring for scrap.

The phone company said damage to the tower exceeded $10,000.

Jerome has three previous felony convictions, and he’s currently on conditional discharge for retail theft and trespassing, officials said. During a bail hearing on Tuesday, his defense attorney said he has ten children.

Judge Kelly McCarthy ordered him to pay a $1,000 bail deposit to go home.

In October, Jerome was charged with criminal damage after a 911 caller reported that he tried to steal an air conditioning unit from its platform, according to CPD records. He was arrested again in February after a different person reported that he was trying to steal an air conditioning unit from another home, a police report said. The status of those cases was not immediately available.

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