£15,000 worth of scrap was made over the course of two months in 2015
Five Vodafone contractors received suspended sentences after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal.
According to The Chronicle the contractors stole dead and live batteries from mobile phone masts selling them for scrap worth more than £15,000, in a period of around two months in 2015.
The five engineers Paul Winter (32), Justin Milburn (37), Mark McKenna (45), Mark Hicks (45) and Lee Easthaugh (23) were discovered when fellow engineers found tracking devices on vans did not match up to their work sheets.
Perks of the job
The defendants not only removed back up batteries but also insulating wires to prevent the mains supply failing. All five men believed scrapping the batteries was a perk of the job.
Judge Tim Gittins said in court: “You should have known this was more than just an apparent perk of the job and was out and out dishonesty.
“The ridiculous thing about your criminality is each of you were only getting a few hundred pounds, maybe a few thousand, and were risking not just your liberty but your employment, which was terminated, and your families’ welfare.
“For the sake of a few extra beers or, in some cases, a few extra lines of cocaine. For the sake of a few hundred pounds.”
Winter also admitted separate charges of supplying cocaine and cannabis to friends, which came to light when police examined his phone in relation to the other offence. He was sentenced to two years, suspended for two years, with 300 hours unpaid work.
The others each received four months, suspended for 12 months, with 100 hours of unpaid work.
A Vodafone spokesperson told Mobile News: “We operate a zero tolerance to thefts of this kind and will look to prosecute anyone who puts our network and our service to customers at risk in this way.”