Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | March 29, 2012

Stolen manhole covers resold to public works contractors

Gildardo Pineda is a major supplier of Bogota’s sewage system’s manhole covers. In March 2010, Pineda discovered that dozens of manhole covers had been stolen from his inventory in Bogota over several months. He got permission from the Bogota water company to randomly insert GPS chips into three of every 100 manhole covers he made.

It traced three of his stolen covers to Neiva, about 150 miles southwest. Private eye Jorge Izkierdo, a former national police intelligence officer, then discovered hundreds of covers in Neiva stolen from Bogota. It turned out they were being resold to public works contractors, which then billed the city of Neiva for new covers at $300 each.

Pineda filed a lawsuit against the Neiva utility and its sewer system’s contractors and hardware suppliers. He accuses them of receiving stolen property.

Others would have let the incident go for fear of reprisal. But not Pineda. He said he ignored more than 1,000 extortion threats and burned down his own farmhouse on the outskirts of Bogota rather than give in to guerrillas who demanded monthly “vaccinations” of money and livestock.

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