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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Elevator Man Caught Lifting Cables

Most foreigners in Russia are familiar with bumpy, anxious trips in crumbling elevators that offer the sounds of grinding gears instead of the Muzak they're accustomed to back home.

But elevator rides in one southeast Moscow district may have been particularly turbulent over the past 10 months thanks to a maintenance man charged with stealing 1 million rubles, or about $39,400, worth of elevator cable and hawking it as scrap metal, police said.

City Crime Statistics
 July 17 -- July 23* 
Theft (total)775322
Apartment burglaries1272
Car theft134
 For the Record 
Car accidents178
a) killed14
b) injured193
Public drunkenness3,318
Detained overnight264
Missing persons22
Bodies discovered52
*City police said statistics for two days were missing due to technical problems.
Source: Moscow police

The suspect, 28, was detained in late June on suspicion of stealing 2.5 kilometers of counterweight cable from elevators in around 10 buildings in the southeast Lyublino district, police spokeswoman Yulia Ivanova said Tuesday.

Although the value of the stolen cable was 1 million rubles, the suspect, an employee of elevator maintenance company SP Podyom, made about 100,000 rubles selling it as scrap metal at a local market, Ivanova said.

"Officially, a meter of cable is worth 470 rubles, but he was selling it in 30-meter increments for 1,000 rubles," she said.

The suspect's employer discovered the cable was missing during its annual inspection and reported the theft to police, Ivanova said. He had been pinching the cable since September, she said.

The suspect, whose name has not been released because of the ongoing investigation, has been charged with theft and could face up to two years in prison if convicted.

Ivanova said the removal of the counterweight cables did not endanger the lives of elevator passengers.

"It did not make the elevators any more likely to fall," she said. "It just made the rides bumpier."

SP Podyom head Yevgeny Neroslov said his company had conducted an internal investigation before going to police.

"We caught him first," Neroslov said, adding that the suspect had since been fired.

Neroslov reiterated that the missing cable had not endangered the lives of passengers.

Poorly trained maintenance personnel are responsible for 30 percent of elevator accidents nationwide, Noviye Izvestia reported in April, citing experts from the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Inspection.

Nine people were killed in elevator accidents last year, Yevgeny Anoshkin, a spokesman for the agency, told Noviye Izvestia.

Experts say that more than 30 percent of the some 110,000 elevators in Moscow have passed their safe usage period, a figure that could increase to 55 percent by 2010, the newspaper reported.