Local News

Man arrested for stealing street lamp

Part of the stolen light pole that was strapped to a minivan headed to a recycling plant.
Posted: 07/30/08 at 10:29 am EDT

MIAMI (WSVN) -- A man who police arrested for stealing a 40-foot-long street lamp said the economy made him do it.

Miami Police stopped Elio Valero, 42, just as he was driving up to the recycling center located at Northwest Seventh Avenue and 21 Street with the aluminum pole belonging to Florida Department of Transportation strapped to the top of his minivan. 

Just before 12:30 p.m. crime scene investigators could be seen snapping pictures of the evidence. The pole was tied down to the top of the van with ropes. It even had red rags attached to each end to let motorists know the van was hauling something huge.

Police officers pulled him over right in front of Miami Recovery & Recycling. Soon after, he was sitting in the back of police cruiser.

Article ImageValero, who claimed to be disabled, said times are tough for him and he needed some cash. "Hey, if I'm doing this to recycle, everybody else should do what they damn need to," he said.

Valero added that the light pole was laying on the ground, unused on 82 Street off Biscayne Boulevard for awhile. "Two or three months. Why didn't they pick it up?" he said.

He said he picked it up near some railroad tracks close to that intersection and drove the pole nearly 40 blocks before police stopped him just feet away from the recycling plant.

While police were arresting Valera, a second man, Joseph Moniz, 39, came peddling a manhole cover to the recycling center. Officers promptly arrested him.

Police have charged both men with grand theft and dealing a stolen good.

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