VALHALLA, N.Y. - Motorists see them as a way to warn them of traffic up ahead.
Angel Velez allegedly saw them as dollar signs as Wetchester County Police say the Bronx man stole $60,000 worth of batteries from electronic road signs on highways throughout Westchester County.
Velez, 26, stole around 300 deep-cycle batteries from the road signs that were owned by Westchester County, the state and various private construction companies, according to police. Velez then sold the batteries to various recycling centers and received more than $20,000 for the batteries' lead content. Each battery weighs between 55 and 96 pounds and costs around $200, officials said.
"These battery thefts knocked many variable message signs out of service, preventing messages from being displayed and posing a threat to the safety of the motoring public," said Westchester Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth in a statement.
An investigation of the battery thefts was started by Westchester County Department of Public Safety Detective Dan Carfi after the county Department of Public Works, as well as various private contractors, reported missing batteries.
Police say the electronic signs were on the Hutchinson River Parkway, Bronx River Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, Cross County Parkway, New York State Thruway and many local roads.
Velez was charged with multiple felony counts of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal mischief.