The Theft Of A Money-Making Metal Leaves One Station's Airwaves Silent

Vandalism at WQFX-AM 1130 has left the station off the air two weekends in a row. Housed in Faith Tabernacle of Praise in Biloxi, the station's signal is silent on the airwaves all because of copper thieves.

Copper is a metal essential to helping the station transmit its signal from its transmitter site to the airwaves. The pastor, Bishop James Black, says he thinks he knows why their station was hit.

"We've experienced the break-ins and thefts as a result of copper prices going up," says Black.

Gulfport Deputy Chief Alfred Sexton agrees with Black and says the increase in the number of copper thefts along the coast have been a concern of police for months. He says reports of stolen copper have come from construction sites, vacant homes damaged by Katrina and wholesalers.

Chief Engineer, Bryan Covey says, the copper was taken from many places at WQFX's transmitter site, including the tower which stands about 240 feet.

"They cut it in several places going up the tower, and they cut the transmission line that goes from the transmitter to the tower," says Covey.

And it's a theft that's costing the station.

"It cost us a lot of money and inconvenience," says Black.

But worst of all, Black says it's costing the people whom they aim to reach with a message of divine inspiration.

"We've been hindered from broadcasting the gospel and that's the greatest hindrance and pain we're suffering at this time."

Despite their setback, Bishop Black says they will try to get back on the air sometime Monday. Gulfport Deputy Chief Alfred Sexton says the case is still under investigation and no arrests have been made.