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Tornado siren repeater stolen from St. Joseph County

The St. Joseph County tornado siren system was put at risk late last week.

When the system began to have problems, the Emergency Management Agency discovered a vital piece of equipment had been stolen.

During Thursday’s daily test, the sirens weren't working.

So the county emergency management team began checking the repeaters.

There are three repeaters in the county that send out signals to make all the sirens work.

There are only three repeaters in the county, and they send out the signal that makes all the sirens in the area work.

When the EMA got to the Jewel Woods area repeater, the $10,000 piece of equipment was gone.

Even stranger, an old repeater had been put in its place, unplugged.

County EMA director John Antonucci says this is a serious crime, and could have put the whole county in danger.

“It’s the only outdoor warning system that we have,” Antonucci said.

Police agree, and are investigating.

“It’s an important piece of the safety infrastructure for the whole community so it’s something that obviously we take seriously,” Chief Bill Thompson, with St. Joseph County Police said.

Investigators also don’t know why someone would steal the repeater in the first place.

“It’s not something the average consumer could get any kind of value out of,” Thompson said.

However, the repeater is of great value to the county, especially in an area already hit hard by severe weather with this summer’s flooding.

 “The last thing we need is the outdoor warning system not to work in that area,” Antonucci said

The EMA has installed a temporary repeater, so all sirens are working, to keep the community safe.

They hope it’s just that, temporary, until they find the missing piece.

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