Three men suspected of stealing manhole covers that were sold as scrap metal were arrested, thanks to tips from an employee at a Perris recycling business, a Riverside County sheriff’s sergeant said today.
Jessy Ray Grimes, 39, Frank Vaca Jorquez, 42, and Steven Dale Parker, 54 — all of Menifee — were taken into custody Tuesday on suspicion of grand theft, receiving stolen property and burglary.
Grimes was additionally booked for alleged probation violations, and Jorquez for alleged drug possession.
He posted a $25,000 bond and was released from jail, while Parker was released after posting a $5,000 bond. Grimes remains jailed at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta in lieu of $25,000 bail.
According to Sgt. Kevin Smith, an employee at Go Green Recycling contacted deputies last week to report that the business had purchased cut pieces of thick metal that appeared to belong to area utilities.
Investigators confirmed the pieces were from manhole covers, nine of which belonged to Verizon, three to the Eastern Municipal Water District and
two to Caltrans, according to Smith.
The covers were altogether valued at more than $4,000, he said.
Parker was identified as the alleged seller of the stolen property and arrested without incident at his Menifee residence, the sergeant said. Grimes and Jorquez were taken into custody around the same time.
“Metal theft causes a significant financial impact on the utility and communication industries, and ultimately to the public,” Smith said. “The theft of manhole covers places the public at considerable risk.”
The Eastern and Western Municipal Water Districts have lost not only manhole covers to thieves, but also fire hydrants and backflow devices. In
July, the agencies offered a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of thieves responsible for stealing hydrants in Jurupa Valley, Moreno Valley and other locations.