PALA MESA (CNS) - Four men hired to repair telephone lines in rural North County were in custody Wednesday, facing grand theft charges for allegedly stealing several thousand dollars worth of copper wire.
Apple Valley residents Jean-Paul Allee, 30, David Edward Murphy, 40, and James Kuhio Ulmer, 43, and David Rivas, 41, of Los Angeles, were arrested Tuesday morning at a temporary company storage yard in the 3200 block of Old Highway 395 in the Pala Mesa area, according to San Diego County sheriff's Sgt. Bob Bishop.
The men work for Gulbranson Services Inc., an Oro Grande-based company hired by AT&T to repair telephone lines that were damaged in a fire last June, the sergeant said.
"The four employees utilized large service trucks to remove several thousand dollars' worth of telephone lines," Bishop said. "Some of the thefts and removal of wire resulted in loss of telephone service in the area."
An investigation into the alleged thefts began three months ago. According to Bishop, detectives had the temporary company storage yard under surveillance Tuesday when Rivas and Murphy arrived with a spool of stolen AT&T wire valued at $1,000.
While detectives were still there, Allee and Ulmer arrived in a large service truck with a heavy steel spool containing used AT&T telephone wire, also valued at $1,000, Bishop said.
Detectives later learned that particular spool and telephone wire had been stolen from job sites in Rancho Santa Fe and Pala.
All four men have prior criminal records, Bishop said, noting that Ulmer is currently on probation for a previous copper theft. The sergeant did not elaborate on the other men's criminal records.
The men were booked into the Vista jail on suspicion of grand theft and possession of stolen property.
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