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MTA: Hicksville man stole copper cable from LIRR

Bernard Jenkins, 58, was arrested by MTA police

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. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp, MTA

A Hicksville man was arrested Friday after Metropolitan Transportation Authority police said he stole or damaged more than 1,100 feet of copper cable from the Long Island Rail Road during a two-week period in October.

Eight times over the past two weeks, Bernard Jenkins, 58, stole the cable from an LIRR substation and other railroad properties, MTA police said.

But it wasn't his first brush with MTA police: Jenkins has now been arrested 11 times for stealing copper from the LIRR, with eight convictions, police said.

Jenkins was questioned by detectives Friday morning while in Nassau County Court in Mineola, where he was making an appearance on a previous charge involving alleged theft of copper cable, police said.

Police said he admitted stealing the additional cable and was arrested and charged with six counts of grand larceny and two counts of petty larceny. He is scheduled to be arraigned Saturday.

The latest crime spree began Oct. 16 on the LIRR right of way on School Street in Westbury, followed by two incidents on Oct. 17, at the LIRR's Carle Place substation and on the tracks at Roslyn Road in Mineola.

According to police, Jenkins "struck again at Roslyn Road on Oct. 24 and Oct. 27, and was back at the Carle Place substation that same day."

The last two thefts took place Thursday at the Carle Place substation and at Willis Avenue in Mineola, police said.

While most of the thefts didn't immediately impact train service, Thursday's heist led to a track fire that melted part of the rail and caused hours of LIRR delays during the peak morning commute, according to the MTA. Copper acts as a conduit that carries electricity along the third rail, and it is also used in signal equipment, officials said.

"Trains were able to travel through the area during the a.m. peak period but only at reduced speeds, and many westbound Huntington/Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma trains were delayed," the agency said in a statement.

Given the dangerous nature of removing wire from the third rail, the MTA said the thief "knew how to remove the copper and get away safely."

The value of the copper that was stolen or damaged totals $11,900, MTA police said. It wasn't immediately clear whether any of the cable has been recovered.

LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said the railroad has stepped up surveillance and copper thefts, despite the latest spate, are down this year.

According to MTA police, there have been 27 copper thefts involving the LIRR so far this year, compared to 56 for the same period in 2013. Police made 13 arrests last year; 11 so far this year.

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