A man in Utah was apprehended on Saturday after he stole an excavator from a construction site, drove it to a nearby supermarket, tore up its parking lot, and tore fibre optic and water pipes.
After the incident, which happened around noon, Omar Ortega, 46, was arrested and charged with felony theft and felony criminal mischief. He was then taken to the Salt Lake County Metro Jail.
It is still unknown why he stole the equipment and then drove to the Smith supermarket on 828 South 900 West.
In video released by the Salt Lake Police, a wide, muddy trench is visible being dug in the parking lot of the supermarket.
The cost of repairing the Ortega is currently estimated to be $40,000, but costs could rise.
According to the police, Ortega dug so deeply that he ruptured several relatively recent fibre optic utility lines and caused a water pipe to leak.
Utility workers examined the damage and looked for a gas leak, which was later ruled out.
According to police, the suspect hopped inside the excavator and used it at will while it was left running by a construction site at 900 South 300 West, which is one mile from the supermarket.
Construction workers pursued Ortega to the supermarket and watched as its parking lot was destroyed while the suspect was “randomly digging up the ground” before dialling 911.
After that, witnesses stopped the suspect from running until the police arrived.
It is still unknown if police were contacted when the equipment was first taken.
A statement published by police claimed that the incident hadn’t been reported until Ortega started digging into the grocery store’s parking lot.
No injuries or deaths were reported.
Bail for Ortega has been set at $1,000. It’s unclear if the suspect is still in jail as of Sunday.
He is Mexican by birth, and the police have detained him on numerous times, including one in 2021 for violence.
From 2019 to the present, Ortega has been accused of driving without insurance, failing to register or having an expired registration, and disobeying traffic signs.