BY BRIGITTE RUTHMAN
TORRINGTON — In his haste to gather the nearly $27,000 in copper and other metals he allegedly stole from several Eversource Energy substations to be sold as scrap, David Fortier included a lock and chain he broke with bolt cutters.
When police noticed the lock and traced the 19-strand braided copper to Eversource, they invited Torrington substation supervisor Alex Walker to inspect it at Liberty Recycling on South Main Street. Walker confirmed the damaged “American” padlock had been owned by Eversource and even unlocked it with his key, according to court documents.
Walker said the Torrington facility was breached in November 2021. Other facilities in Harwinton, Salisbury, Canaan and Falls Village also were burglarized throughout last year and early in 2022.
Fortier, 36, of Prospect, initially was held on $240,000 bond based on several warrants.
On Tuesday at Torrington Superior Court, he was ordered held on $65,000 in bonds for charges of larceny and criminal mischief. As a condition of his release on bond, Fortier was ordered not to enter any Eversource facility.
The act of stealing copper cables required skill and luck, Walker and others said. The risk of being electrocuted in the process of cutting cables from electrical structures within gated areas was high, as was the potential for harm to anyone who then navigated the damaged system. Similar thefts are under investigation in Chester and Warwick, N.Y.
State police said they closed in on Fortier, who had been seen in the vicinity of a similar theft in Southbury, while driving his girlfriend’s New Hampshire GMC pickup truck without a license. When they seized the vehicle, troopers said they found a police scanner, two-way radio, tools, bolt cutters, narcotics and electrical equipment.
Tyson Finch, a senior security agent for Eversource, estimated the cost of the thefts at nearly $27,000.
Liberty Recycling paid Fortier $8,427 for several deliveries of various metals, mostly copper.
With a criminal history that includes charges of larceny, burglary, criminal trespass and failure to appear, Fortier’s cases in other districts remain pending.
Contact Brigitte Ruthman at firstname.lastname@example.org.