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$15K Lead Detector Stolen From City Car

by Melissa Bailey | Dec 19, 2013 2:33 pm

(3) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Legal Writes, Westville

A thief spotted a black suitcase in a city-owned Chevy. The thief broke in—and ended up with a $15,000 lead detector owned by the health department.

Police announced that news Thursday as they sought public help tracking down the expensive device—which could leak a small, non-lethal amount of radiation if damaged.

Here’s what happened, according to police Sgt. David Zannelli, the new supervisor of the robbery/burglary unit:

A city health department worker was driving a city-issued maroon 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier, plate number 457-NH. She parked it outside her home on West Hills’ Farnham Avenue on Monday evening. She left a black, hard suitcase behind the driver’s seat.

Sometime between 10:30 p.m. and midnight, a thief spotted the suitcase and broke into the car.

It turned out the suitcase was not ordinary loot. It contained a city-owned RMD XRF LPA-1 lead analyzer (an example of which was pictured above), which is used to detect the level of lead in substances such as paint. The case, which was labeled with the number 3520, also contained two keys and a battery. Together, the stolen items were worth $15,000.

Police were concerned about the theft not only because of the loss of public property—but because the device may become radioactive if tampered with, according to Sgt. Zannelli. By law, no one can use it without certification.

Police do not believe the thief was looking for a lead analyzer in particular. That’s because there was another car break-in on the same street that night, in which a GPS was stolen, Zannelli said.

Police have sent out an image of the lead detector to all pawn shops in the city in case it turns up. Police are asking anyone with info to call Sgt. Zannelli at (203) 726-2899.

Gym Thieves Nabbed

In other news, police have identified two suspects they believe are responsible for stealing people’s valuables out of the locker room at Planet Fitness at 160 Amity Rd.

The two suspects were arrested this week by North Haven cops when they were caught in the act of stealing from a Planet Fitness in North Haven, according to Zannelli. When North Haven cops went to the suspects’ car, they found stolen items from New Haven. The modus operandi in the New Haven and North Haven gyms appears to be the same: The thieves used fake key cards to gain access to the gyms, then broke into peoples’ lockers and stole things.

New Haven police have applied for warrants to charge the men in the Amity Planet Fitness thefts; the warrant applications are awaiting a judge’s signature, Zannelli said.

For block-by-block year-to-date crime info, check the Independent’s crime map.

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posted by: Anderson Scooper on December 19, 2013  3:36pm

Fairly irresponsible of the City employee to leave $15,000 in the back of her car, regardless of which neighborhood or town she lives in…

posted by: darnell on December 19, 2013  4:15pm

Why does a city health worker have access to a city car after leaving work? Why would a city worker leave anything owned by the city, much less a $15,000, in the seat where it is easily seen and assessable, why wasn’t it in the trunk? Or better yet, why wasn’t it left at the office in the safe where it belongs?

posted by: robn on December 19, 2013  4:28pm


Lead detection swabs are about 3 bucks a piece retail. You can buy 5000 of them on Amazon for the price of this device. How many tests does the dept do in a year?

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