A serial copper thief has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after he was discovered stealing copper pipe from a construction company in Charlottetown, Canada. On this occasion, the loot may have been worth ‘only’ US$ 10 000, but criminal charges state that Ronald Laybolt was able to get his hands on 150 000 worth of copper in 2010 alone.
Metal theft has become a ‘specialisation’ of Laybolt over the years, said judge Terri MacPherson during the trail in P.E.I. Supreme Court, CBS reports. She detailed how the offender had cut through a security fence and barbed wire of Maritime Electric in St. Charles to get at the electrical equipment inside the substation – which just so happens to carry 138 000 volts of electricity.
The man didn’t wait even 24 hours after selling US$ 38 000 worth of copper – and some aluminium as well – before returning to the site to steal more metal, the court was told by Maritime Electric workers. The crew had been keeping an eye out for missing material, and busted Laybolt when he went back to the local scrap yard the following day (November 2016).
‘High risk behavior’
Judge MacPherson observed that his most recent activities, in 2017, cost Kinkora Construction more than US$ 10 000 in stolen metal, namely copper wire and brass fittings. She ruled that Laybolt’s ‘high risk’ behaviour poses ‘extreme danger’ to not only himself, but also utility workers and first responders because mishandling electrical wire could easily result in electrocution.
MacPerson also took into account that the metal thief stole US$ 150 000 worth of copper from multiple asphalt plants in Kings County back in 2010, for which he was convicted. It is hoped that the new 30-months prison sentence will discourage him from targeting scrap metal in the future.
Away in the night
Meanwhile, America is still dealing with metal scrap issues of its own, as AIM Recycling Florida experienced first-hand, according to the Miami Herald. It recently came to light that one of its workers had teamed up with competitor Samuel Abreu of Metals USA to make metal from the 30 million pounds scrap mountain ‘disappear’ in the middle of the night. Predominantly scrapped cars were stored on-site, said to be worth ‘a couple of million dollars’.
Long-time AIM Recycling Florida employee Pedro Torres is said to be one of six workers ‘recruited’ by Abreu to manipulate the weighing scales during the day and let trucks inside the lot at the end of the day. To date, Torres has admittedly received roughly US$ 35 000 from the company’s competitor to enable the scheme.
One of the cash transactions was caught on surveillance camera, after which his managers confronted him. The rest of the scrapyard workers have also confessed to their part in the plot.
Impossible to notice?
Torres told local authorities manipulating the scales was easy. ‘Because the stacks of metal are so significant in size, it is almost impossible to tell with the naked eye if large portions of those stacks, even a few tons, have been removed at any given time,’ he explained.
Most of the cash allegedly went straight into Abreu’s hands, seeing as the entrepreneur purchased many luxury items within weeks of each other. This includes a US$227 000 house in Kissimmee, an Audi S7, several Ford Mustangs, a Ford F-250, a boat as well as a US$ 12 000 Breitling watch.
A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing Abreu from selling any scrap metal while he and Metals USA face legal action. The entrepreneur’s bank accounts have also been frozen since he has been a regular at the local Hard Rock Casino.
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