Fake T-Mobile technician climbs Miami cell tower causing outage and $500K in damages


Only in Miami would you find a story like this. According to WSVN, 38-year-old Richard Smith was arrested on Wednesday after he climbed up a 127-foot four-carrier cellphone tower owned by Crown Castle. By his actions and words, it seemed that Smith thought that he was working for T-Mobile. When he got to the top of the tower, he found a switch that allowed him to shut down the tower which set off alarms. A real T-Mobile tech was sent to the tower to check out what was going on.

Miami Police Officer Michael Vega explained what happened when the fake T-Mobile employee met the real one. “The T-Mobile worker gets on the scene and sees that where you turn on and off the power, it was shut off — so, this was manually done — and notices that there’s somebody on the tower,” Vega said. “He starts talking about God and [asks the worker], ‘Please, see the view with me.'”

Video of the incident shows Smith climbing the tower wearing a bright red shirt and carrying a bible that he placed in the waistband of his pants. One witness compared Smith to a Marvel superhero. “It’s crazy, like Spider-Man,” said Nima Zandy.

Police Officer Vega said, “He tampered with the equipment up there. He threw things down, he wasn’t listening to officers’ commands to come down. Those gray boxes that you see up on the tower, they are actually very hot. So he knows what he’s doing, because he’s avoiding touching those boxes. He was saying that, ‘I’ve got a job to do, I’ve got to finish my job.'” While the investigation was going on, nearby areas were blocked off by the police.

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At one point, Smith started unhooking the clamps that send power to the tower. Officials said that while Smith remained on the tower after turning the power off, cellphone service in the area was negatively impacted. Smith remained on the tower for four hours while crisis negotiators tried to talk him down. Officer Vega said, “Once he felt that his job was done, then he came down voluntarily, shook hands with the officers, with the firefighters there. He thanked them all and cooperated 100% with us.”

T-Mobile made the following statement: “After our systems alerted us that there was a service issue at this site, which we and other providers lease from a vendor, our field technician responded, determined that there was an unauthorized entry, and called local authorities. We are grateful to the Miami Police Department and Miami Fire Rescue for their response and will continue to support their investigation. Fortunately, everyone is safe, and overlapping coverage in the area will continue to ensure customers remain connected.”

Smith was taken into custody when he climbed down from the tower so that paramedics could check him out. He was “charged with burglary of unoccupied structure and criminal mischief over $1,000.” One report said that Smith might have caused as much as $500,000 in damages.


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