A former employee at two Dundalk-area warehouses has been charged with stealing $300,000 worth of steel, aluminum and copper and then selling the products to a local recycling company for personal profit.
Baltimore County police received a complaint from a manager at Baltimore International Warehouse, located on Canton Center Drive near North Point Boulevard, after the company recently fired an employee for allegedly stealing $20,000 in copper and selling it to nearby Terrapin Recycling, LLC.
The investigation of that complaint led to a further police investigation of the employee, who previously worked as a forklift operator at Overseas Distributers, also located on Canton Center Drive.
Records at Terrapin Recycling and an inventory search by Overseas Distributors, revealed that the same man who accused of stealing the copper from Baltimore International Warehouse, had stolen up to $300,000 of steel and aluminum chain link fittings and fencing from Overseas Distributors, county police allege.
Mark Antonio Luis Candelaria, 42, of the 7500-block of Lange St. in Baltimore, was charged with theft of $100,000-plus, scheming to steal $100,000-plus and theft of less than $1,000.
According to Terrapin Recycling company records, Candelaria netted nearly $47,000, police allege.
Police said that an inventory search by Overseas Distributing, revealed that 5,000 bags of their product, valued between $250,000 and $300,000, was missing.
Terrapin Recycling employees, police and Overseas Distributing employees then found a large box of aluminum fence caps that had not yet been melted down at the Terrapin Recycling facility, roughly 244 pounds of aluminum worth $865, stamped with the Overseas company logo.
According to police, the fence caps were sold by Candelaria, who used his Maryland driver’s license in selling the items. A police report stated further that Candelaria, according to a Terrapin Recycling employee, had been a regular customer since the recycling company opened seven years ago and was well known at the business.
Captain Woodland M. Wilson III, commander of the North Point station, said that his precinct sees a lot of property theft crimes in the area, with steel, aluminum and copper targeted for recycling.
“We’ve had an increased problem with ‘scrapping’ for probably the last three years,” Wilson said, noting that along with Terrapin Recycling, Owl Corp recycling, located in the 1900-block of Graves Ct., near Stansbury Park, is situated in the 12th precinct.
Wilson said that legal guidelines for recyclers are less strenuous than for pawn shop owners, who theoretically are offering loans in exchange for valuable goods. It's something Baltimore County police leadership has previously attempted to address through legislation in Annapolis, Wilson said.
“You think bells would’ve gone off with somebody,” Wilson said of Candelaria’s massive recycling effort.
Wilson also said thieves have not just targeted commercial operations locally, but continue to steal copper from residential homes.
“We’ve had people climb on roofs and pull the copper out of air conditioning units,” Wilson said. “They might only get a $100 worth of material, but they do thousands of dollars in damage.”
Along with selling bags of fence fittings, police allege that Candelaria sometimes delivered whole pallets to the recycling company, explaining that they were damaged parts and his employers hoped to recover some of their loss by selling the items for recycling.
According to police, Overseas Distributing said it is not their policy to recycle damaged good locally, but to reship them back to India where they are melted down and remade. The suspect is not an authorized representative of the company, police said.
During the course of the suspect’s employment with Overseas Distributing, Terrapin Recycling records show he sold 320,00 tons of steel and 14,000 pounds of aluminum to the recycling company, located on Rolling Mill Rd. just north of Eastern Boulevard and east of North Point Boulevard, police allege.
According to police documents, there is no video evidence linking Candelaria to the thefts.
Police claim that Candelaria helped set up the video surveillance equipment at Overseas Distributors, a large warehouse with only five employees, where management sits in an enclosed office. According to police, the suspect often arrived early at work and parked his brother’s Ford F-250 pick-up truck out of sight of the video cameras.
A warrant was issued for the suspect on Dec. 28. According to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, Candelaria posted bond on Dec. 30 and was released.
The trial date, set for the District Court of Baltimore County, is April, 7, 2011.
In 2002, Candelaria was charged twice with fraudulent conversion of leased goods. Both cases were closed without prosecution.