CALEXICO — Three men have been arrested in connection with the theft of roughly $60,000 in property including fire hydrants, manhole covers and copper wire from the Towncenter project construction area, Calexico police authorities said.
Over the course of the first two weeks of April, 14 fire hydrants, nine manhole covers and copper wire from six electrical boxes were stolen before a Calexico police officer caught the thieves in the act, Calexico Police Detective Manuel Ceja said.
Police patrols in the area were increased in response to the rash of thefts to operational project infrastructure along Towncenter Drive, which has been closed off to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
El Centro residents Miguel Anthonio Pricola, 21, and Miguel Alegria, 32, were arrested Thursday on felony charges of grand theft and conspiracy.
Calexico resident Louie Ruben Espinoza, 40, was arrested Wednesday for conspiracy in relation to the thefts by allegedly providing tools to help shut off water to the fire hydrants.
About $40,000 is estimated in losses to Calexico and $20,000 to $25,000 in losses to the Imperial Irrigation District.
Copper wire theft is common, but Ceja said he couldn’t recall another case in his career where fire hydrants or manhole covers were being stolen.
While a fire hydrant can weigh between 150 to 175 pounds, the seclusion of the area being targeted provided the thieves with ideal circumstances to work without being seen, Ceja explained.
The investigation remains ongoing.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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