Two workers who were painting the Bayonne Bridge last month have been charged with stealing copper wire, which caused $9,000 in damage and an electrical outage at the main power of the bridge, officials said.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
James B. Pace, 48, of Middletown, New York (left photo) and Tiago Bruniera, 33, of Newark (right photo) have both been charged with two counts of criminal mischief and theft in relation to a June 26 power outage incident at the Bayonne Bridge, according to Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo.
On that day, there was a reported electrical outage at the main power of the Bayonne Bridge and electrical workers discovered that approximately 120 feet of copper cable had been illegally removed from the main span of a tower electrical panel, authorities said.
Additionally, the cable had been removed from boxes that had live current, Pentangelo said.
Port Authority police detectives investigated the matter, noting that the bridge was closed for construction from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. on June 25, and then again from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m. from June 25 into June 26, officials said.
Investigating Port Authority police detectives spoke to witnesses, (access to the bridge is limited during construction) and looked at photographic evidence, and determined that the theft had occurred on June 25 when the two suspects, acting in concert, removed the cable, authorities said.
Bruniera allegedly donned a safety harness and climbed over the railing of the bridge to access the underside of the roadway surface to reach an electrical junction panel and cut and remove the cable, police said.
The stolen cable was then lowered by a boom and guided into the back of a pick-up truck, later driven from the bridge and then transferred to a personal vehicle of Pace, Pentangelo explained.
Bruniera and Pace were arrested this morning at the bridge without incident and both suspects were identified as painters employed as part of the construction project, officials said.
Investigators determined the copper was sold to a scrap metal dealer for $150 to $200 and the estimated cost for replacing the cable was over $9,000, authorities said.