Who is pilfering city pay phones?

When an entire pay phone was stolen in Point Breeze last week, it was strange. But stranger still, the detective in charge of the case said the incident is not isolated and even affects a New York company.

The Coatesville-based company that owns the stolen phone, National Electric and Telephone, also recently had a phone stolen in West Philadelphia near the zoo, Detective Joe Didek said.

A New York City-based pay phone company recently contacted National Electric and Telephone to discuss a rash of their own pay phones that had been stolen in Philadelphia, National Electric allegedly told Didek.

Didek said that National Electric and Telephone will show the surveillance footage released by police to their trade organization in order to investigate the possibility that an employee from another pay phone company may have stolen the phone for parts.

“That’s something we thought about because they are expensive phones,” Didek said.

A source familiar with the trade said that, while the phones themselves are not particularly profitable and do not often contain much cash revenue in their coin boxes, their motherboards are costly. It is not unheard of for private companies to steal a pay phone from a competitor and use their guts to create a new phone, the source said.  


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