Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 24, 2014

Neighbors accused in metal theft

Staff reports
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — TOWN OF LOCKPORT — A pair of neighbors are due in town court Thursday to be arraigned on charges related to the theft of aluminum from the Walmart supercenter construction site.

Michael A. Palladino, 31, 51 Price St., and Robert J. Trautwein, 57, 57 Price St., both in the city of Lockport, were charged with petit larceny and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property March 22 after Niagara County Sheriff's deputies saw them unloading aluminum wire from a pickup at Trautwein's residence.

The sheriff's office had been called to the 5600 block of South Transit Road about 7 p.m. Saturday, where about 500 pounds of aluminum wire was laying in the roadway.

Two witnesses told the deputies they had seen two men climb the fence around the Super Walmart construction site, take the wire and load it into the back of a pickup truck. The witnesses said they followed the pickup onto South Transit Road, where some of the wire fell off the truck onto the roadway. 

The witnesses told deputies they saw the pickup pull into the Charles Upson school parking lot on Beattie Avenue and lost track of the pickup after that.

Deputies searching the area found the pickup on Price Street and, as they pulled up, saw Palladino and Trautwein unloading the rest of the aluminum wire from the pickup.

Palladino told deputies he works for one of the subcontractors at the Walmart site and claimed his boss told him it was OK to take the aluminum wire. Trautwein said he went along to help Palladino. 

When asked if they realized they'd dropped 500 pounds of wire onto South Transit, Trautwein replied they did but they were scared and just kept driving.

Deputies eventually made contact with Palladino's boss, who said he had not given anyone permission to take anything from the work site. Number One Towing was called in to get the aluminum wire off the road and bring it back to the work site.

Trautwein, who drove the pickup, was also charged with driving with an unsecured load and leaving material in the roadway.