A Tulsa man's family business could be forced to shut its doors because of crime

Friday, February 18th 2005, 11:25 am
By: News On 6

Someone keeps stealing a Tulsa businessman's pay phones. It may not sound that serious, but the theft has cost his business more than $120,000 in the last year, that's twice as much as was taken in all of Tulsa's bank robberies in 2004.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright has the story.

Need a pay phone to make a call, dozens and dozens of pay phone boxes are sitting empty and the reason why, isn't what you might think. Theft victim Nathan Kendrick: "I think there's a misconception, people drive around and see they're gone and think the companies are taking them out, but someone else is doing it for us, unfortunately." That's right; someone stole all of the pay phones and lots more just like them.

The thief took three of the five phones from one convenience store at the busy intersection of 51st and Mingo just last weekend. It costs the company $2,000 to replace a phone and since the phones are emptied each night, the thief only gets chump change for his efforts. "How you can risk your life and prison for $5 is way beyond me."

Tulsa Police arrested a man for stealing pay phones and the thefts stopped cold, now that man is out of jail and they've started again, same exact method, but officers need proof to make an arrest. These thefts hurt Nathan's business in a couple of ways, he's out the phones and the money in them and is losing customers, plus he says it affects the whole community. "If there's a car accident in the street and you run here to make a phone call to 911, sorry, they're losing the convenience of the phones and things like that."

Nathan says the phones are stolen again as fast as his company replaces them. If the stealing doesn't stop, he could lose the business his father started many years ago and entrusted to him. You might think pay phones aren't needed anyway because so many people have cell phones, not so, 120-million Americans still don't own a cell phone.

Nathan's company, Telecorp Communications owns about 700 pay phones in five states.

If you have any information about these thefts, you can call Crimestoppers at 596-COPS. You don't have to tell them who you are and if your tip helps police make an arrest, the Crime Commission will pay up to a thousand dollars in cash.