FAIRFIELD – Scrap-metal thieves got a physics lesson Friday morning when they tried to steal heavy equipment from a Fairfield warehouse, but failed when the load broke their trailer.

Fairfield Police Officer William Beaulieu said a pickup truck was seen driving from the warehouse after the botched theft, with a broken trailer hitch thrown in the back of the truck.

“The trailer couldn’t handle the weight and they had to leave everything behind,” Beaulieu said. “They didn’t know the simple laws of physics.”

Beaulieu believes more than one person broke into the warehouse on Kennebec Street, near the Shawmut Dam, about 8:30 a.m. No one was arrested but police have suspects, he said.

It took at least two people to try to load the equipment that was moved during the failed theft, Beaulieu said. They were trying to steal eight pieces of metal equipment weighing 300 pounds each.

A person driving to the dam saw the pickup leaving the scene and called police, who searched for the truck Friday, Beaulieu said.

The state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife owns the warehouse, but the equipment belonged to a former industrial tenant at a neighboring site, he said.

The equipment is worth about $4,000 if sold for its intended use, as an industrial conveyor system used to move heavy equipment. But the thieves probably intended to sell the equipment for scrap metal, Beaulieu said.

There have been several attempts to steal scrap metal at the warehouse and adjoining industrial site in recent years, Beaulieu said. Police arrested a group of scrap-metal thieves last summer.

“We’ve had an ongoing problem with scrap metal being taken and people taking apart things for the metal,” Beaulieu said.

Most thefts are from industrial sites or warehouses, but people are also stealing piping and floorboards from vacant homes and buildings, he said.