How do you steal an 18-ton excavator, and what do you do with it once you’ve made your getaway?
Riverhead police may be able to answer these questions if they catch whoever took a $100,000 Caterpillar 315 CL from 111 Mastro Rd. sometime between April 20 and May 5. Several homes are under construction in the area.
Investigators surmise the machine was loaded onto a transport, Riverhead Police Department Detective Sgt. Ed Frost said. “You’d have to have a low-bed trailer. It’s not just getting driven off by itself,” he said.
Frost said he believed the machine could still be on Long Island. The problem, he said, is that “There are numerous Caterpillars or similar machines in operation. Without someone leading us to it, it’s hard to locate. They all look alike.”
The excavator’s serial number is CJC00501.
Police have spoken to neighbors but have no leads, Frost said. Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in the case. Anyone with information can call 800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and a message to 274637 or over the internet at tipsubmit.com. All tips will be kept confidential.
The perpetrators face C felony charges, according to Frost, who said theft of heavy equipment in Riverhead was rare but not unprecedented.
That’s apparently true, too, for the rest of Long Island. In 2015, a Caterpillar excavator was reported stolen from the parking lot of Capital One on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station. In 2010, thieves took a backhoe from a Medford business on Route 112 and one from a fire department parking lot on 9th Avenue in East Northport.
In 1989, somebody took a 1986 Mack dump truck, a 1985 semi trailer and a backhoe with a total value of $150,000 from a Garfield Avenue home in Bay Shore.
According to the National Equipment Register, an industry database, close to $300 million worth of heavy equipment was stolen nationally in 2016, primarily in states with a high volume of construction or agricultural activity. Only 21 percent of the equipment was recovered.