NEW YORK Fifteen Long
Island Rail Road (LIRR) employees have been charged with
stealing more than $250,000 worth of copper scrap from the
railroad and selling it to a local scrap company, according to
local media reports.
The arrests were the culmination
of an investigation dubbed Operation Heavy Metal and prompted
by a tip last year to the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority. Investigators said the stolen wire included new
spools, severed sections of spools and discarded copper wire
that the railroad was gathering to sell for scrap.
The workers have been suspended
Lawyers for some of the workers
sought to play down the allegations, arguing that many of the
materials the men are accused of stealing was nothing more than
"trash" discarded by the LIRR decades ago, according to
According to the LIRR, the railroad makes up to $1 million
per year selling discarded metal from its tracks, including
copper, for scrap.