An attempt to sell a nearly $60,000 piece of stolen construction equipment in an online scam was demolished when a Fairfield man, cooperating with a police-orchestrated sting, helped bust the quartet of thieves, police said.
The local man was interested in purchasing a piece of construction equipment he saw advertised on Craigslist, but after his suspicions were aroused by the proposed deal, steered police to four people who were charged Monday with stealing the brand-new equipment from a company in Orange.
The potential buyer responded to an ad listing a used Kubota skid-steer for $16,000, and made arrangements to look at the equipment on March 9 in the parking lot at the Dock Shopping Center in Stratford. The man became suspicious because the equipment -- a payloader-like vehicle with tractor treads -- looked new, so he told the sellers that he didn't have money with him. But one of the sellers said they had permission to keep it in the parking lot only for a day, and the buyer said he would take it to his house in Fairfield and store it.
When he got home with the skid-steer, the man had a friend familiar with construction equipment inspect it. They discovered that reflective tape had been applied to a spot on the equipment to conceal the name, "F&W Equipment," a business in Orange. The skid-steer is valued at $58,297.
Fairfield police were alerted, and discovered the skid-steer had been reported stolen by the Orange company. The potential buyer then was asked to make arrangements to pay for the skid-steer at a pre-determined location. When the four would-be sellers arrived, they were met by police and charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.
Arrested were: Jamie Roberts, 19, of Rakoczy Avenue; Nicole Berg, 21, of Third Avenue, West Haven; Nicholas Verity, 26, of Research Drive, Stratford; and Stephen Verity, 23, of Third Avenue, West Haven. Nicholas Verity was also charged with second-degree forgery because he had a fake ID in his possession, police said, as well as four counts of failure to appear in court in other cases.
All were held on $100,000 bonds and scheduled to appear March 18 in Bridgeport Superior Court.
In a related incident, Roberts' father, Todd Roberts, 48, of the same Rakoczy address, was charged with third-degree assault and disorderly conduct later that day when he got into an argument with his own mother and former brother-in-law over posting bond for Jamie Roberts.
The former brother-in-law, Scott Matthews, 43, who also lives at the Rakoczy address, called police around 11 p.m. to report that Todd Roberts assaulted him. Matthews had injuries to face, hands, legs and neck, police said, and was taken to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport for treatment. The mother said Todd Roberts began yelling at her, and Matthews charged him. Todd Roberts then threw him to the ground and began to punch him, she said.
Todd Roberts was released on a $5,000 bond and was scheduled to have appeared Tuesday in Bridgeport Superior Court. Matthews was issued a misdemeanor summons for third-degree assault and disorderly conduct as well, and released on a promise to appear Tuesday in court.
Updates at Fairfield Citizen: http://bit.ly/1hLugdA