- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A northern New Jersey man has admitted leading a group that stole heavy machinery from construction sites in the state and sold the equipment out of a vacant lot in Newark.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says 34-year-old Michael Troncone, of Blairstown, pleaded guilty Monday to theft as part of a plea deal. He now faces an eight-year prison term, but it’s not clear if a sentencing date has been scheduled.

The state’s Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s office was tipped off to a pattern of thefts by the police departments in New Providence, Lyndhurst and Hanover.

With the help of local and state detectives, the office gathered video evidence which allegedly showed Troncone and another person stealing equipment from construction sites during late evening or early morning hours.

Authorities say the thieves would allegedly drive up, hook up a trailered piece of equipment and drive off with stolen equipment in tow. Detectives used high-tech equipment to foil the scheme, including remotely operated surveillance cameras, tracking devices and digital forensics.

Detectives eventually executed three search warrants in New Jersey, and Pennsylvania state police executed another warrant in Pennsylvania. Authorities say at least 21 pieces of heavy equipment valued at several hundred thousand dollars were recovered during the investigation.

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