CRIME

Police: Man steals excavator, tears up ground outside grocery store

Aug 6, 2022, 3:16 PM | Updated: Aug 8, 2022, 10:42 am

UPDATE: The Salt Lake City Police Department said 46-year-old Omar Ortega is the suspect in the case involving felony theft and felony criminal mischief. Around $40,500 worth of damages to property and equipment. SLCPD said no further police updates are expected.

SALT LAKE CITY — A man is facing felony charges, accused of stealing an excavator and causing damage to public utilities Saturday afternoon.

According to Salt Lake City police, a man stole an excavator from a construction site and drove it a mile to a grocery store at 828 South 900 West around 12 p.m.

The suspect started randomly digging around the ground, hitting a water line, and ripping out fiber optic utility lines when bystanders called 911.

“Several 911 callers said that the suspect was inside the excavator just randomly digging up the ground,” said Brent Weisberg, spokesman for SLCPD. “Some of the community members had actually surrounded him to prevent him from leaving before our officers got on scene.”

Police arrested him without further incident.

Based on preliminary information, the excavator had been left running while at a job site at 900 South 300 West, according to police.

However, a superintendent for the construction company that owns the excavator told KSL TV it appears as though the man somehow jammed the wrong key into the ignition in order to hot-wire it.

No one was injured and no crashes were reported. Utility crews are still investigating the total cost of damages.

The suspect was booked for felony theft and felony criminal mischief. Police did not give the age or name of the suspect, and the motive is still under investigation.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Police: Man steals excavator, tears up ground outside grocery store