BURBANK — A 29-year-old Panorama City man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he and two other men posed as Charter Communications employees to steal copper wire from utility poles, officials said.
Jesus Arreguin-Lopez faces a felony count of grand theft of copper wire belonging to the cable company, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.
The other two men — Jose Esparza, 26, of Van Nuys and Juan Lopez, 30, of Los Angeles — were also charged in the alleged copper wire theft, but they were released from jail on $20,000 bond each and won’t be in court until next month, officials said.
“It’s something that’s picked up,” Burbank Police Officer Joshua Kendrick said of a recent rash of copper wire thefts at local businesses and city parks and power substations.
Burbank detectives are investigating whether the trio also committed other thefts of copper piping, wire, steel and aluminum support bars from park benches, Kendrick said.
Glendale police will also look into whether the trio is connected to a July 25 copper wire theft that occurred at a warehouse on the 900 block of Grand Central Avenue, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.
Thieves scaled a ladder outside the building, entered the warehouse and gained access to a large air conditioning unit, from which they removed copper wire and other metals, Lorenz said.
Damage to the unit was estimated at $50,000.
Arreguin-Lopez, Esparza and Lopez were arrested in connection with an Aug. 19 theft that occurred about 8:30 a.m. in the neighborhood of Parish Place and Clark Avenue in Burbank, police said.
Neighbors called police after allegedly spotting the trio loading copper wiring into a white Dodge pickup truck.
Arreguin-Lopez, Esparza and Lopez were wearing orange vests, hard hats and utility belts, police said.
The men allegedly told neighbors they worked with the cable company and were going to cut down old wire.
But they weren’t carrying identification, so a neighbor grew suspicious and wrote down the truck’s license plate number as they cut away at the wire.
Officers searched the vehicles and found utility belts, orange vests, hard hats and cutting tools, police said.