United States

Utah man arrested after stealing excavator, digging up grocery store parking lot in Salt Lake City: police

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A Utah man was arrested Saturday after authorities say he stole an excavator from a construction site and drove it a mile to a grocery store in Salt Lake City, where he used the machinery to rip up the parking lot.

Police began investigating around 12 p.m. after receiving calls about a man “randomly” digging a grass strip and sidewalk outside Smith’s grocery store at 828 South 900 West, the Salt Lake Police Department said. 

Video and photos shared by the department show a freshly dug muddy trench in the store’s parking lot. 

Police said the suspect caused significant damage after hitting a water pipe and ripping out fiber optics utility lines that were recently installed. Utility crews determined there was no gas leak and were assessing the extent of the damage.

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The suspect had hopped into the excavator which had been left running while at a job site at 900 South 300 West, police said. Construction crew members followed the suspect to the grocery store, where he commenced the destruction. It was unclear why the man allegedly stole the heavy machinery.

The suspect caused significant damage, hitting a water pipe and ripping up fiber optics cables, police said.
(Salt Lake City Police Department)

A group of witnesses stopped the suspect from leaving the scene until officers arrived. 

The suspect was taken into custody without incident and was expected to be booked into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail on charges of felony theft and felony criminal mischief, according to authorities. His name and age were withheld until the booking process was complete.

Utility crews were assessing the extent of the damage.

Utility crews were assessing the extent of the damage.
(Salt Lake City Police Department)

Police said no injuries were reported and no crashes occurred while the excavator was being illegally operated.