Police: Man steals excavator, illegally rips up ground at grocery store

Authorities said they have arrested a man they believe stole an excavator from a construction site and drove it for nearly a mile before ripping up the ground at a local grocery store. 

Salt Lake City Police in Utah said the incident happened Saturday just after 12 p.m. local time. They said they were called to 828 South 900 West where the suspect was digging into the ground. 

Authorities said a huge crowd at the store helped prevent the suspect from leaving until they arrived. 

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"The suspect caused significant damage to the ground, including hitting a water line and ripping out newly installed fiber optic utility lines," police said in a news release

Several agencies responded to the scene including Salt Lake City Public Utilities, Salt Lake City Streets, Salt Lake City Fire and Dominion Energy. Crews wanted to make sure there was no gas leak.

However, the full extent of the damage is still being investigated. 

Neither injuries nor crashes were reported while the suspect drove the excavator, authorities said. 

A preliminary investigation revealed the excavator had been left running at a job site at 900 South 300 West.

"The suspect, for an unknown reason, got inside and then drove away," police continued. "Crews at the construction site followed the suspect to the grocery store parking lot."

Police said they are not revealing the suspect's name and age until he is booked at the Salt Lake County Metro Jail. 

He faces charges of felony theft and criminal mischief. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.