Caught on tape: workers stole city scrap metal and sold it

GABRIELA BARRANTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER City Controller Alan Butkovitz reveals findings yesterday from an investigation into scrap theft.

From today's Daily News: 

TWO CITY workers caught on tape stealing scrap metal from city-owned property and hawking it for cash may be facing criminal charges.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz released the findings yesterday of an investigation into two public employees - one a school district locksmith and the other a Streets Department worker - caught taking scrap metal from city property and selling it to private recyclers.

The controller declined to identify the two men, but said they still have their jobs.

"The majority of items observed visually were large metal objects such as guardrails and storage containers," said Butkovitz.

"The items were large enough that the employee had to use a forklift to transfer the metal through the city-owned facility and into his personal trailer."

Over the course of the last six months, the controller's office obtained surveillance footage of the employees hauling heavy slabs of scrap metal from a Streets Department building on Whitaker Avenue in North Philly into their own personal trailers. Butkovitz said the combined value of the scrap sold was more than $2,500.

"The majority of the items sold were listed as 'brass' on the sale records sheet," he said.

"We acquired the materials from the recycler after the employees' most recent scrap run."

Butkovitz said the men could be charged with theft and theft of services, since the trips to the recyclers were done while they were supposed to be working.

Typically, city "surplus property" is disposed of through the procurement department for a return. That money, said Butkovitz, should have gone back into city coffers.

Both men are reportedly cooperating with the controller's office and one has confessed. The matter has been referred to the Inspector General's Office.