eBay listing leads Groton police to booty from utility

Groton - A cordless drill listed for sale on eBay last month led city police to an arrest and the recovery of more than $4,500 worth of equipment stolen from Groton Utilities.

James C. Murphy, 37, was charged Wednesday with first- and third-degree larceny and was arraigned in court on Thursday.

Murphy was working as a lineman for Groton Utilities last summer when he pilfered $6,500 worth of drills, chain saws and other specialized city-owned equipment, police said.

The cordless drill for sale on eBay by Gold Star Pawn in Groton still had a Groton Utilities sticker affixed to it - an immediate red flag for city Detective Paul Ruddy, who investigated the case.

Ruddy contacted the owner of the pawn shop and found out the drill was listed for sale after Murphy defaulted on a loan. Pawn shops typically will take an item as collateral for a loan and will retain ownership of the item if the money is not repaid in a certain amount of time. They keep records of all transactions.

Murphy admitted to some of the thefts, telling police he needed money to support a growing pain medication and heroin addiction that developed over the summer, according to the arrest warrant affidavit in the case. He told police he since has received narcotics addiction treatment and has been rehabilitated.

After conducting an inventory in February, Groton Utilities officials reported that among the items discovered missing were an $800 Fluke 787 ProcessMeter electronic testing tool and a Hilti hammer drill with bits and case worth $2,600.

Police said they found Murphy had made multiple transactions with the pawn shop since the summer, "including tools that are consistent with what is provided to a lineman employed by Groton Utilities."

Gold Star's records showed Murphy had pawned the $800 metering tool in August and had redeemed the item in November but had not returned it to the Groton Utilities electrician vehicle, police said. The tool is still unaccounted for.

Murphy and his former girlfriend have returned several other items to police.

At his appearance in New London Superior Court Thursday, Judge John J. Nazzaro released Murphy on a $10,000 nonsurety bond with the understanding that he is to cooperate with an alternative incarceration program and to submit to drug testing.

He is scheduled to return to court on April 5 to make a plea. He does not yet have an attorney, according to court records.

Groton Utilities Director Paul Yatcko declined to comment on the case and would not say whether Murphy was still an employee.



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