On January 24, 2013, Polk County Sheriff’s detectives arrested 40-year-old Christopher Fink (DOB 6/26/1972) of 1317 Shady Cove West in Haines City and filed multiple charges against him after he stole and then scrapped 166 manhole covers from Village 7 in Poinciana.
The Toho Water Authority reported the steel covers missing to PCSO on January 23, 2013. According to Toho, the covers were stolen sometime between January 9th and January 23rd. The area where the thefts occurred is located along Lake Marion Creek Road, and encompasses several side streets, such as Cedar, Dogwood, and Bayberry. The estimated value of the thefts is over $22,000. The lack of manhole covers significantly increased the risk of harm to drivers and pedestrians in the area. Toho placed temporary plywood covers over the spaces and marked each area as a hazard.
When the investigation began, detectives sent out a 'scrap alert' to all local secondhand metal dealers. When Gregco Recycling received the alert, they immediately contacted PCSO and told detectives that Fink sold the stolen manhole covers to them during four separate transactions: on January 18th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd. Fink sold the covers through his business, CMF Masonry, LLC. During the transactions, Fink provided his identification, signature, and right thumb print as verification that he lawfully owned the manhole covers.
On January 24, 2013, detectives obtained a warrant for Fink's arrest, and located him in Haines City that evening. He has been booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with: 21 counts Grand Theft; 4 counts Dealing in Stolen Property; 4 counts False Verification to Secondhand Metal Dealer; and 166 counts Culpable Negligence Exposure to Harm.