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CROWN POINT — A contractor for ArcelorMittal is accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of valuable metal from one of the steel company's non-operational plants.

Tim J. Hurd, 63, was charged Friday in Lake Criminal Court with 46 counts of theft, a Level 6 felony. Tania Perla, the defendant's 36-year-old wife, also faces charges on allegations she participated in five of the thefts.

The thefts were discovered in April after Hurd, a contractor responsible for maintaining a non-operational plant at the company, asked security staff members to investigate vandalism at the work site, court records state.

While investigating the vandalism, security guards noticed a large box containing copper and brass was sitting near Hurd's work trailer. The security guards then decided to place hidden cameras in Hurd's work area.

The surveillance cameras allegedly captured Hurd stealing rolls of cable on seven occasions between July 12 and Aug. 7. Perla is also allegedly captured on video helping her husband load cable rolls into his personal vehicle.

Hurd allegedly admitted in an interview with security guards he stole metal from the work site for several years. He said he sold it to recycling centers in East Chicago and Griffith. He also allegedly admitted to destroying one of the security staff's cameras after he realized he was caught on video stealing, records state.

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Between June 2016 and August 2017, Hurd sold more than $25,000 worth of scrap metal to the Griffith recycling center, records state. The East Chicago recycling center told authorities it did not have records of Hurd's transactions because he was never paid more than $600 during a single visit.

Hurd allegedly told security guards he used some of the cash to build an addition on a home in Nicaragua. He said he stole because he had “massive debt,” records state.

Hurd was arrested Friday. He posted a $20,000 surety bond Monday. Perla was wanted by authorities Monday on a $30,000 surety bond.

Hurd was convicted in Lake Criminal Court of vicarious sexual gratification in 1996. He was sentenced to three years probation for the offense, records state.

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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.