Police: Man causes $40K in damage to parking lot with stolen excavator

SALT LAKE CITY — A man is facing charges after police said he stole an excavator, drove it a mile to a parking lot, and began to dig up the ground.

>> Read more trending news

Salt Lake City Police Department said in a news release that the excavator had been left running at a job site in the city, and that the suspect, identified as Omar Ortega, jumped into the vehicle “for an unknown reason” and drove away. Police said Ortega drove nearly a mile to a grocery store parking lot, where he ripped up the ground.

Crews from the construction site told police they saw Ortega take the equipment and followed him as he drove to the store, KSTU reported.

Salt Lake City police said that a large crowd at the grocery store intervened to prevent the suspect from leaving until officers arrived.

Photos and a video shared by police on Twitter show the extent of the damage done to the parking lot. Piles of dirt and broken cables are visible.

A water line and newly installed fiber-optic cables were damaged by the excavator, police told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Police told KSTU that the damage to city property was estimated to be over $40,500.

Ortega was charged with multiple offenses, including theft, criminal mischief and driving without a license, according to jail records.