theft of more than 250 tons of steel from the ruins of the World Trade
Centre is being investigated by the FBI and New York police who believe
that it was organised by one of the city's Mafia families.
Material from the scene of the September 11 terrorist attack,
consisting mainly of steel girders, was discovered earlier this week at
three scrapyards, two in New Jersey and one on Long Island.
appears that the scrap was hauled away by trucks involved in the
clear-up operation. But instead of being taken to the FBI-controlled
dump on Staten Island where all the material is being stored and sifted
it was driven directly to the independently-owned scrapyards.
Police sources said yesterday that no human
remains were in the scrap. One detective said: "It does make you
wonder, though, how low some people will stoop.
was a disgusting crime aimed solely at deriving financial gain from the
scene of our nation's greatest tragedy. It is difficult to control the
movement of material because there is so much of it.
so, it's hard to believe that with more than 6,000 people dead, it
would be taken for profit." A grand jury is being convened in New York
to look at the evidence gathered by the New York Police Department, the
FBI and the state's Trade Waste Commission.
is estimated that the scrap metal value of the 255 tons so far
recovered would be about £10,000. The detective said: "That is not a
great deal in itself but the operation to steal from the WTC was
obviously not going to be limited to the 255 tons we have found."
are understood to be looking at the role of known associates of some of
the city's five Mafia families, who have decades-long connections with
the waste disposal business and whose stranglehold on rubbish
collections in New York was broken by the current mayor, Rudy Giuliani.
working on a tip-off found 75 tons of material at a scrapyard in Deer
Park, Long Island, on Monday. They subsequently raided two New Jersey
scrapyards and found another 180 tons.
delivering rubble from the site of the tragedy in lower Manhattan to
the Fresh Kills landfill site on Staten Island are now getting official
escorts but, until last week, trucks were travelling alone.
There have been other reports of thefts from the World Trade Centre site, including watches stolen from a shop in an underground mall. Souvenir-hunters have also been caught taking pieces of the rubble from the flatbed trucks hauling it away.
far, about 130,000 tons of the debris have been removed after the
recovery of 306 bodies and many hundreds of body parts. Officials now
estimate that more than a million tons of rubble remain, almost twice
the original estimate.
Mr Giuliani said
yesterday that it could take more than a year for the site to be
cleared. New and contradictory figures emerged yesterday over the
number of people still listed as missing in the World Trade Centre
since the attack.
The official police estimate
currently stands at 5,960, but the total recorded at the families'
centre in New York is 4,260. Mr Giuliani said the true figure, which
includes those killed in the two aircraft and the bodies recovered,
"probably lies somewhere between the two".