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Security To Be Tightened At LIRR After Copper Thefts

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- After 15 Long Island Rail Road employees were arrested and charged with stealing over $250,000 worth of copper wire, the railroad agency said it will put in place new measures so that similar thefts will not happen.

As WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported, LIRR officials said the agency has enacted three new measures to prevent the theft of any more scrap metal.

Security To Be Tightened At LIRR After Copper Thefts

LIRR President Helena Williams said first, the agency will increase surveillance video, and next restrict employee parking, so that vehicles are not near any scrap metal areas. The agency has also begun putting up secure bins to contain the scrap metal.

"We did have open bins. There was a level of trust and honesty," Williams said. "Now the secure bins will open on the sides to put in the pieces of metal."

The 15 employees accused in the thefts surrendered to authorities and were arraigned Friday. Charges in the indictment vary from conspiracy to grand larceny to possession of stolen property to theft of services.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the workers would steal new and used copper wire from railroad yards and then sell it to Two Brother's Scrap Metal in Farmingdale.

Between Jan. 1, 2010 and Jan. 10, 2013, prosecutors said sales of the copper netted the alleged thieves more than $253,000 -- money that should have gone to the LIRR, which was in the midst of budget woes, pension scandals, and rising passenger fares, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

Attorneys for several of the defendants said the copper wiring allegedly stolen was scrap that was to be discarded.

"I think the case is much ado about really nothing," defense attorney Edward Jenks told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall. "Much of the copper is abandoned copper that's been around for 50 to 100 years laying on the side of the road. The railroad would have to get a remediation company to remove it and it would cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars."

"The Rail Road had their head buried in the sand, or they knew about it," Jenks told CBS 2's McLogan.

The LIRR said it makes up to $1 million per year selling discarded metal from its tracks, including copper, for scrap.

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