Greene County, Mo — If a Springfield man gets out of jail, the court will track his whereabouts because deputies say they caught him stealing phone wiring for the third time. In 60 days, prosecutors charged William L. Ritter three times with tampering with service of a utility or institution and stealing wire.
On July 9, deputies first arrested Ritter with Jonathon W. Goetz. They say they found the pair cutting phone lines in the area near 6454 N. Farm Road 159. “If somebody needs to call 911 because they are sick it's a bad situation,” neighbor Billie Haymes said.
Haymes says wire theft is on the rise in his neighborhood. “There's been three different times,” Haymes said. “The big one was at McDaniel Lake.” Deputies say Ritter’s theft cut service to 639 landlines and more. “Not only did they knock out hundreds and hundreds of landline customers they knocked out a wireless tower now potentially you've knocked hundreds possible thousands of people's ability to make a cell phone call,” AT&T Regional Director of External Affairs Mike Haynes said. “911 is not something you call everyday but when you need it, it's very, very important.”