Stolen bucket truck knocks down power lines in NY

AP News
Posted: Aug 27, 2013 11:27 AM

ELMONT, N.Y. (AP) — A transit worker stole a bucket truck and drove it through the streets of a New York City suburb early Tuesday with its boom extended, knocking down power lines and poles and cutting electricity to thousands, authorities said.

The truck and several welding machines were stolen from a Metropolitan Transportation Authority yard in Jamaica, Queens, said spokesman Kevin Ortiz. An employee also discovered that the power had been cut to the yard, he said.

Joel Grasman, 51, a "light maintainer" at the Jamaica facility and a 23-year employee of the agency, was arrested, Ortiz said. Nassau County police said charges were pending.

Grasman allegedly drove the truck through his Elmont neighborhood around 4 a.m., ripping down utility wires, poles and tree limbs, authorities said.

The damage, which included at least a dozen downed poles along various streets, cut power to 6,000 customers, said Long Island Power Authority spokesman Mark Gross. A few hundred customers remained without electricity by late morning, but Gross said "it's going to be a labor-intensive day" because of the carnage.

"A lot of damage was done in a short amount of time," he said. "We're flooding the area with crews for the restoration work. We expect this is going to be a full day event."

Information about Grasman's attorney was not immediately available. There was no telephone listing for him in Elmont.

Inspector Kenneth Lack, a Nassau police spokesman, said Grasman went to the yard to steal the welding equipment, but decided to take the bucket truck too because the gear wouldn't fit in his own truck. At some point, he raised the bucket truck's boom, though it's unclear if he did it on purpose, Lack said.

Elmont is located in the Town of Hempstead, near the Queens border. It is perhaps best known as the home of the Belmont Stakes.