October 1, 2008

Copper Thieves Allegedly Posed As Workers

Police in Florida say that a group of copper thieves posed as utility workers to go into manholes and steal cable from under city streets.

Five men were arrested Monday night in Riviera Beach, the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported. The suspects, all from Miami, were charged with attempted burglary and possession of stolen property.

Investigators said that the men allegedly used a van painted with the logos "Utility Service Contractors of Florida" and "Utility Maintenance & Repair Services Inc." and dressed in uniforms that looked like those worn by utility company employees. When they went to work at a manhole, they put orange cones around the site.

"They act like they are repairing it, and they go in the manhole cover," said Sgt. Pat Galligan of the Riviera Beach Police Department. "They cause all kinds of damage."

The group allegedly made off with at least $1 million worth of copper cable in Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach.

The investigation began when AT&T notified police that it was being targeted by copper thieves. The group was caught allegedly hitting a site where cable had been stolen a week earlier to steal the replacement cable, Galligan said.