EXCLUSIVE: SNG Vehicles Burglarized Again in New Jersey

Thieves continue to strike satellite news vehicles in eastern New Jersey. This time, at least one truck and possibly more were burglarized as news vehicles converged across the Hudson River for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to nearby New York City.

PSSI Global Services had a truck hit the night of Friday, April 18, according to Rob Lamb, owner of the Los Angeles-based remote production company.

“They took two amplifiers--two HPAs--and two Tandberg hi-def encoders,” he said. “The four most expensive items in the truck were stolen.”

The Tandberg Television encoders were valued at around $40,000 each; no specific price was mentioned for the ETM high-powered amplifiers, and no prices were available online to deduce an estimate. The encoders were freestanding in a case, while the amplifiers were ripped out of the racks, Lamb said.

PSSI’s sat truck was hit in the parking lot of the Newark Airport Hampton Inn in Elizabeth, according to Lamb, who was awaiting word on the local investigation three weeks after the incident.

“We were broken in their once before, but was in the cab, one of the engineers left a laptop in it. We were at the same hotel in Newark,” he said.

PSSI’s hit represents the fourth confirmed news truck burglary in a 20-mile corridor of New Jersey since December. In February, Television Broadcastreported on three separate incidents in the area, and several more unconfirmed thefts have been reported by sources familiar with the satellite newsgathering industry.

On Feb. 3, Jay Silvio’s business screeched to a halt when thieves broke into his truck at the Four Points Sheraton in Elizabeth. Silvio is owner of SkyWire, a one-truck operation in Glen Allen, Va. The culprits also took two Tandberg Television encoders out of Silvio’s truck, as well as a receiver and a variable phase combiner. They also took his attaché, which contained satellite transponder information, and his traveling humidor.

Sure Shot of Youngstown, Ohio, had an SNG vehicle hit Dec. 3 at the Holiday Inn in Newark. Denny Kunce, president of Sure Shot, said the thieves took analog upconverters and a tape deck. They also tried to rip out the amplifiers, but were unsuccessful. A WABC-TV truck was also hit in the parking lot of the station’s New Jersey bureau in Rutherford.

The PSSI truck that was hit was a 2.4-meter SNG unit, the smallest of the PSSI fleet in the New York area, Lamb said.

“We’ve been very lucky with all of our trucks,” he said. “When they do break in, they usually take tools. I think we’ve had one tape deck stolen, and it was a long time ago. Now we have 25 trucks, and we’ve been lucky.”

Anyone with information about ENG and SNG vehicle burglaries is encouraged to contact Television Broadcast Editor-in-Chief Deborah D. McAdams at dmcadams@nbmedia.com.