Drug Addict Arrested in Manhole Cover Stealing Spree: Sources

He told police he was stealing the covers for scrap metal to support his crack and heroin habit, sources said

By Shimon Prokupecz
|  Thursday, May 10, 2012  |  Updated 5:35 PM EDT
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Addict Admits Stealing Manhole Covers: Cops

Andrew Modica, inset

Police have arrested a man suspected of stealing more than a dozen manhole covers across the city in a spree that stumped utility officials for weeks.

Sources tell NBC 4 New York that the 46-year-old suspect, Andrew Modica, has admitted to stealing at least 18 of the covers across Brooklyn and Queens.

Modica told police that he is a crack and heroin addict and has been stealing the covers to sell for scrap metal and support his addiction. He told police he may have stolen more than 18 but could not remember because of his drug use, sources said.

Modica said he was paid about 15 cents per pound at two scrap yards, or about $30 per cover.

Witnesses told police that he would pull up to a manhole in a truck, surround it with cones, hook the cover and use a hydraulic car back to raise it into the pickup truck bed. He would leave either the cones or a construction barrel over the hole when he was done, police said.

Con Ed has said more than 30 manhole covers have gone missing since early March.

The break in the case came after witness reports described a man driving a Ford F-150 with a partial Connecticut license plate. Police tracked him down through a parking ticket recently written to the truck, which was stolen.

A witness who saw him steal a manhole cover in Brooklyn also identified him as the suspect.

Modica is charged with criminal possession of stolen property and reckless endangerment, according to law enforcement officials. It was not immediately known whether he had an attorney.

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