Utah Man Arrested For Stealing Excavator And Digging Up Store Parking Lot

The Demolition Excavator

Photo: Getty Images

A Utah man was taken into custody for allegedly stealing an excavator from a construction site. The Salt Lake City Police Department said that the suspect, 46-year-old Omar Ortega, found the excavator, which had been left running, at a construction site and drove it about a mile to a grocery store parking lot.

Ortega then began using the excavator to dig up the ground, causing major damage.

"The suspect caused significant damage to the ground, including hitting a water line and ripping out newly installed fiber optic utility lines," the police said in a statement. "Crews from Salt Lake City Public Utilities, Salt Lake City Streets, Salt Lake City Fire, and Dominion Energy responded to assess the damage and to ensure there was no gas leak."

Officials estimated that Ortega caused over $40,000 in damage.

Bystanders stopped him from leaving until officers arrived to take him into custody. He was taken to jail and is facing charges of felony theft and felony criminal mischief.

Officials did not say why Ortega stole the excavator or why he decided to use it to rip up the ground.

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