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Battery thefts hazardous to drivers

Thousands of dollars worth of batteries stolen from construction equipment and traffic advisory signs over the past year.

Santa Rosa County investigators believe Joseph McMillan Junior is behind the thefts of more than 100 industrial batteries around Pace and Milton.

Why the missing batteries aren't just costing the construction companies, they're also creating a hazard for drivers.

"We've all seen signs like this on the side of the road they warn us of dangers up ahead or even  which way to travel, but if they don't work it can become hazardous to drivers."
   
Santa Rosa County sheriff's deputies say Joseph McMillan Jr. is suspected for over 100- battery thefts from electronic signs and construction equipment.
   
Ken Ancke  "I think the economy is getting really bad if it comes to something like that.   I mean it's sad that people have to steal batteries out of signs to survive."
   
The president of Gulf Coast Traffic Engineering Company Blair Crooke says it's been a pain to replace the batteries.

"It's only about $10 or $12 a day we make in rental and when they steal about 8 batteries out of them that are $180 a piece basically all your rental for the year is eaten up by one theft."

Karen Allen  "It's just such a low thing to do because you are endangering people's lives and I can't imagine they are getting that much money out of it."
   
Crooke says McMillan was selling the batteries to a local  recycle yard and  was only receiving $20 each.

"We've been doing all kinds of measures to chain them shut, to weld them shut, and they keep on getting into them."

"We decided to see how secure these batteries were and it was as simple as unhooking this and lifting the lid."

"Well I'll find out what's going on with that, but we have 35 of them and we're trying to get them all in."

Jack Allen  "Back in the day nobody locked their doors including me now you lock your doors, so lock the battery boxes."

"If you have any information on McMillan's whereabouts you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at 437-STOP.