Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thief Speeds Away With 1,000 Pounds of Copper Wire

A brazen thief was caught on camera stealing thousands of dollars worth of copper from an electrical contracting firm in broad daylight on Long Island, speeding away as workers tried to stop him. Surveillance footage shows the thief strolling into the back of the business in Wantagh, then later, driving in his SUV and loading up the vehicle with 1,000 pounds of valuable copper wire.

An employee threw a rock at a thief's Jeep Wednesday morning, smashing a mirror, but he was unable to stop the theft, Nassau police said.

The employee at JM Electrical Contractors on Wantagh Avenue noticed a surveillance camera had caught a black Jeep Liberty speeding into the rear yard at 11:15 a.m. A male got out and began loading several pounds of the company's copper into the vehicle, police said.

The owner is seen trying to stop the thief as he got back into the vehicle.

"I see the guy parked there, so I start yelling, 'What are you doing? What's going on?'" said Joe Mutino, the owner.

Mutino threw a rock at the suspect, who jumped into the car. Mutino reached into the open driver's-side window to try to stop the thief.

Some of Mutino's employees also tried to stop the thief, including his secretary, who nearly got run down by the speeding SUV.

"They said I was screaming like the kid from 'A Christmas Story,' the stuff that was coming out of my mouth was all garbled," Mutino said. "I just remember I wanted to stop him."

It was the third time in two years that scrap wire stored at the business had been stolen.

"It's easy drug money," said Mutino. "They come in, they steal the copper and go right to a junkyard."

"I didn't even sleep much last night. I don't know if it's because I let myself down that I had him" and he got away, Mutino said. 

Nassau police are now hunting the thief, who Mutino estimates made off with about $3,000 worth of wire. The business owner uses the scrap metal money every year to say thank you to his employees.

"We collect copper throughout the year, we strip up the copper, sell it off and book a trip to Florida, kinda giving something back to the guys," he said.

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