Bernard Jenkins, 58, was arrested by MTA police on Friday,...

Bernard Jenkins, 58, was arrested by MTA police on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, in the theft of 1,100 feet of copper wire from multiple LIRR stations including Carle Place, shown on April 20, 2011. Credit: Howard Schnapp, MTA

A Hicksville man with a long record of Long Island Rail Road copper thefts is facing new charges that MTA officials hope will finally result in a lengthy jail term.

Bernard Jenkins, 58, was charged Friday with stealing or damaging more than 1,100 feet of copper cable -- some of which was cut off railroad tracks, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority police.

Eight times last month, Jenkins plagued the LIRR by stealing the cable from a substation and other railroad properties, MTA police said. In one instance, the theft caused a commute-stalling fire.

Jenkins has now been arrested 11 times in LIRR copper thefts in recent years, resulting in eight convictions, police said.

"Obviously, he is well-known to MTA police," said LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena. "If he is found guilty for this latest series of thefts, we would hope that prosecutors and the court . . . consider a jail sentence measured in years rather than months."

Jenkins was questioned by MTA detectives Friday while in Nassau County Court in Mineola, where he was appearing on a previous charge of stealing LIRR copper, police said.

Police said Jenkins admitted stealing the additional cable and was arrested and charged with six counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, and two counts of petty larceny, a misdemeanor.

Jenkins pleaded not guilty Saturday in First District Court in Hempstead. He was held in lieu of $8,000 bail.

MTA officials said the latest rash of thefts started Oct. 16 and lasted two weeks. Copper was taken from the LIRR crossing on School Street in Westbury, the Carle Place substation, and the Willis Avenue and Roslyn Road LIRR crossings in Mineola, according to court records.

The cable theft Thursday on Willis Avenue caused a track fire that stalled the morning commute in that area, the MTA said.

The copper cables carry electricity along the third rail and are also used in signal equipment. The value of the stolen or damaged copper totals $11,900, police said.

Copper has been stolen from LIRR properties in the past -- most notably by a group of railroad employees -- to later be sold at scrap yards.

Arena said the LIRR has stepped up surveillance, and despite the latest spate, copper thefts are down this year: 27 thefts so far this year compared with 56 during the same period in 2013.

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