TITUSVILLE, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A former shuttle technician could go to prison if convicted of stealing damaged heat shield tiles at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Investigators say David Abbey, 50, of Cocoa, Fla., sold the tiles as souvenirs on eBay, Florida Today reported. NASA launched an investigation when one online buyer asked the agency about a tile's history.
Abbey, who worked for a NASA contractor, United Space Alliance, until May 2009, was arrested Thursday.
An affidavit said Abbey admitted to investigators he stole tiles. But he said most of his fellow employees also took them.
"I'd just put it in my bag and walk out with it," Abbey was quoted as saying. "Yeah, we knew it was wrong, but ... we didn't think it was a big deal because, you know, everybody wants some souvenirs."
Each shuttle has 22,000 heat shield tiles. The damaged ones are replaced after every mission.
Investigators say Abbey made about $12,500 from eBay sales, with bid surpassing $900. He faces state charges of grand theft and dealing in stolen property with a potential sentence of up to five years.
He was released on $10,000 bail.