January 25, 2013 | 2395 views
17 charged in LIRR copper-wire theft
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has charged 17 people with stealing more than $250,000 worth of copper wire belonging to the Long Island Railroad and selling it to a scrap yard, she announced at a press conference Friday.
Between Jan. 1, 2010 and Jan. 10, 2013, 15 employees of the LIRR and two outsiders allegedly conspired to steal the copper wire and sell it to Two Brother’s Scrap Metal in Farmingdale, according to Rice.
The employees are part of Work Gangs 30, 31 and 33 in the LIRR’s communications department, where they maintain railroad yard signal systems.
An investigation by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General Barry Kluger revealed that the defendants would allegedly steal new and used copper wire stored in the railroad yards, sometimes while on duty.
Among the alleged stolen material were brand-new spools of wire, cut sections of other spools and discarded copper wire the LIRR was gathering to sell for scrap.
“These defendants stole from everyone who rides on the Long Island Railroad when they stole public property and sold it to line their pockets,” Rice said. “What’s most outrageous is that they continued to commit these thefts even in the wake of catastrophic damage to the LIRR in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.”
The defendants would allegedly use LIRR trucks to transport the wire to their personal vehicles, and from there the wire would be taken to the scrap yard.
According to Rice, a majority of the sales to the scrap yard were made using the drivers’ license of a non-employee, and the proceeds were divided among the 17.
Rice said that investigators from the MTA Inspector General’s Office, the MTA Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department all collaborated with the DA’s office, using devices like GPS monitoring, pole cameras and license plate readers to catch the employees in the act of theft.