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WMATA worker charged with stealing agency defibrillators

A maintenance worker has been arrested and charged with stealing defibrillators from rail stations, then selling them in online aucitons. (Photo: Examiner file)

A Metro maintenance worker has been arrested and charged with stealing defibrillators from rail stations, the transit agency said Friday afternoon.

Derrick Davis, 40, of Laurel was arrested Wednesday in an undercover sting after allegedly posting an ad on eBay to sell an automatic external defibrillator, Metro said. The devices are used to help save people having heart attacks or other heart problems.

Authorities at the transit agency started noticing some of the devices were missing during regular daily inspections about five months ago, said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel. After a months-long investigation, they zeroed in on the maintenance worker.

An undercover cop then met the suspect at a convenience store Wednesday and confirmed the HartSine Samaritan AED device belonged to Metro. Davis was charged with a felony count of theft over $1,000, according to Metro.

Davis admitted to detectives that he had stolen 13 devices from Metro, according to the agency. About half of them were from stations, Stessel said. While the hot AEDs were going for as little as $300, each device is worth about $1,400. Metro estimates the total value was $18,000.

Davis, an employee since July 2005, has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of his case, Stessel said. He could face additional charges.

The thefts could have been facilitated -- but also discovered -- because of recent reforms at Metro. In April 2012, a 51-year-old Metro rider died of a heart attack after the defibrillator at the Pentagon Metro station failed to work. Metro officials found the device had a dead battery. The death prompted Metro to get rid of outdated equipment, outfit all 86 stations with the devices and pledge to inspect them every 24 hours.

The defibrillators were not the only odd thefts from the transit agency.

Last year, a Metro supervisor was fired for stealing less than $300 worth of small household-style appliances. Two Metro workers -- including a transit cop -- pleaded guilty to stealing more than $445,000 from the transit agency fare machines, much of it in bags of coins that they used to pay off jewelry store debts and buy lotto tickets. In 2010, investigators found 70 pieces of Metro items, including a 32-inch computer monitor, camera equipment and a portable generator, in the home of another Metro supervisor.