A Utah man was arrested by Salt Lake City police Saturday for allegedly stealing an excavator and driving it a mile up the road to tear up a grocery store parking lot.
Omar Ortega, 46, allegedly destroyed water pipes and fiber optic cable lines beneath the ground with the stolen Volvo excavator, amounting to more than $40,000 in damages, according to The Daily Mail.
A man in Salt Lake City, Utah, stole an excavator then proceeded to rip up a grocery store’s parking lot Saturday, including hitting a water line and ripping out fiber optic utility lines before he was arrested. https://t.co/uSnSoBRufH
— WLOS (@WLOS_13) August 7, 2022
Ortega hopped into the heavy machinery after it was left running at a nearby construction site and drove the excavator to the grocery store parking lot about a mile away, police say. (RELATED: Ukrainians Appear To Steal A Tank In Viral Video)
Upon arriving, Ortega began “randomly digging up the ground,” causing shoppers and local builders to call 911, the outlet continued.
Witnesses refused to let the suspect flee the scene until police were on the scene.
Here’s something you don’t see everyday, someone stole an excavator and drove it nearly a mile to 800 South 900 West where he started ripping up the ground. The suspect is in custody and utility crews are assessing the damage. #slc #slcpd #saltlakecity pic.twitter.com/VSfnR44xOp
— Salt Lake City Police (@slcpd) August 6, 2022
Ortega’s reasoning behind the theft and destruction is unclear, according to Fox News.
The man was booked by police and was charged with felony theft and felony criminal mischief, Fox added.
Ortega hails from Mexico and has several prior arrests, Daily Mail reported. (RELATED: Meet The Man Orchestrating The Endless Torrent Of Migrant Caravans Heading Toward The Border)
The suspect was arrested for assault in 2021 and has been charged with operating a motor vehicle without insurance, failure to renew a vehicle registration and failure to obey traffic control devices, according to the Daily Mail report. (RELATED: Gov. Gavin Newsom Announces California Will Eliminate Traffic Debt For Low-Income People Owed Since 2015)
Ortega’s bail was initially set at $1,000 and it is currently unclear if the Mexican-American man remains in police custody.