Airport electrician charged with stealing copper wire

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

An electrician employed by the Metropolitan Airports Commission was charged with stealing copper wire for five years and making at least $125,000, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Tuesday.

Kipp Baldwin, 59, of Bloomington was charged with one count of theft by swindle. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance April 2.

“The facts discovered in this excellent investigation by Airport Police show that Mr. Baldwin went to great lengths to disguise himself and to hide the copper wire, which belonged to another company, in order to make thousands of dollars,” Freeman said. “We already have informed the court that there are aggravating factors in these criminal acts so a judge could sentence above the guidelines, if we prove the case in court.”

According to the criminal complaint, someone told the Airport Police Department in October that they suspected Baldwin of stealing copper from contractors hired to do work at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

A review of the use of his electronic badge, surveillance video, surveillance by police officers and records obtained by police investigators found that while Baldwin worked Monday through Friday, he often would come to work on the weekend. Whether during the week or on weekends, he always would drive the same airports commission truck from the building trades building to locations throughout the airport, the complaint states.

One project going on last year at the airport required replacing all types of wiring, heating and air conditioning systems and other piping. Hunt Electric was one of the hired contractors. Airport commission electricians, like Baldwin, do not work on those projects. In addition, the outside companies are responsible for any materials removed during demolition and construction.

Both during the work week and on the weekend, Baldwin would take the scrap wire, remove the insulation and hide the wire in boxes until he could remove it. In one instance, he put on an orange reflective vest that said HUNT on the back, put on a hardhat and carried a spool of wire used by Hunt employees and then moved a large cart with boxes out the door to where his truck was parked, according to the complaint.

Baldwin would regularly take the wire and other metal to United Milwaukee, a scrap metal facility. Police obtained records from United Milwaukee Scrap and from two banks where Baldwin had checking accounts. The records indicated that from March 12, 2015 through Nov. 15, 2019, Baldwin delivered metals to United Milwaukee 70 times and was paid $145,722, the complaint states.

Other records indicate Baldwin has 10 retirement counts in his name worth $1.3 million and that he has been taking scrapped metal materials to various scrap companies since 1995.

Criminal complaint (PDF)