“Can You Hear Me Now?…Nope.”
Bossier Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested a Texas couple in early April for stealing copper from cell phone tower sites in Bossier Parish, but the case continues as charges are pending from neighboring parishes, and detectives are working with five other counties in Oklahoma regarding the same crimes involving this duo.
Charles Krupnik, 51, and Michelle Herrada, 43, of the 3200 block of Obenchain St. in Dallas, Texas, were charged with seven counts of simple burglary on April 7, following a nearly four-month investigation by the Bossier Sheriff’s Office. Detectives determined the live-in couple of about 15 years stole some 1,000 pounds of copper from four different cell phone tower sites in Bossier Parish. During the investigation and subsequent arrest, Bossier detectives were able to connect the pair to more than a dozen other cases in area parishes and five counties in Oklahoma.
The case began back in January when Bossier patrol deputies met with a local AT&T representative at a cell phone tower location where he reported a break-in and theft of about 750 feet of copper tubing and wiring. As detectives investigated that case, they discovered that three other cell phone sites in Bossier Parish had been burglarized, as well as cell phone sites in Caddo, Webster, Desoto, Natchitoches and Bienville Parishes and counties in Oklahoma. At this point in the investigation, charges for Krupnik and Herrada are with Caddo, Webster, Desoto and Natchitoches Parishes, as well as Marshall County in the Sooner State.
Here is how the copper capers went down – the couple would drive around in various locations here in northwest Louisiana, usually early in the morning around 3 a.m., until they saw a cell phone tower location. Herrada would then drop off Krupnik, and he would use bolt cutters to cut through the fence and then cut power to the site. He would also move security cameras around to avoid being caught on camera. He would then cut open tubing used at the tower site, cut out the copper, and Herrada would return to the site for their getaway. They would then sell the copper at a scrap yard near their home in Dallas.
The four locations the couple hit in Bossier Parish included two cell phone towers in Haughton, one in Benton and one in Bossier City. In Bossier Parish alone, they stole nearly 1,000 pounds of copper, which accounted for around $40,000 in stolen copper and damage to the cell phone tower sites. The damage to the towers affected cell phone coverage for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.
With little evidence at the scenes, no surveillance video and no eye witnesses, Bossier detectives didn’t have much to go on. While Krupnik and Herrada eluded authorities for months, Bossier detectives were relentless and steadfast in their investigation and were eventually able to connect the conniving couple to the cell tower capers. The U.S. Marshals Service aided the Bossier Sheriff’s Office is picking up the couple as they were leaving the scrap yard in their hometown area of Dallas in early April. They were then transported to the Bossier detective’s office for questioning, where they admitted to the cell phone tower thefts. Krupnik said he was simply trying to make a living; he was previously convicted of theft of copper wire and engaging in organized criminal activity in Sept. 2010 in Texas.
“I commend our detective’s staff who worked so diligently on this case with little evidence to work from,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington. “They didn’t give up and finally found a piece of the puzzle that connected these two to the crimes. We continue to work with other agencies, including those counties in Oklahoma, and we are hopeful even more charges will be brought.”
Krupnik and Herrada are currently incarcerated in the Bossier Parish Security Facilities in Plain Dealing with a bond of $105,000. They did receive their one phone call…on a landline.