Man allegedly stole a city snowplow in Big Bear. His location was clear
A 35-year-old man is suspected of stealing a municipal snowplow in Big Bear Lake days after a blizzard in the Southern California mountain town.
Jonathan Hernandez, a San Gabriel Valley resident, allegedly broke into a secure area at City Hall on March 4 and drove off in the snowplow, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.
The plow was outfitted with GPS, and when deputies tracked it down, they found Hernandez inside the vehicle, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.
No details were immediately available on why Hernandez allegedly took the vehicle, but a snowplow would have been a welcome sight across much of the San Bernardino Mountains in the wake of recent storms.
For nearly two weeks, many residents living in mountain communities from Crestline to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear have been trapped under massive amounts of snow — more than 100 inches in some places. Officials have struggled to clear roadways and provide relief after back-to-back storms pummeled the region with blizzard conditions.
The snowfall buried cars, blocked roads, collapsed roofs and severed gas lines — leading to fires. Entire neighborhoods struggled to get food and fuel.
Thirteen people have been found dead since the onset of the storms. A number of these deaths are suspected of being linked to the extreme weather.
As of Wednesday morning, about 95% of San Bernardino County roads had been cleared, officials said, but they noted that many roadways were only wide enough to accommodate single-lane traffic. Almost 30 miles of roads had yet to be plowed.
On Thursday evening, State Road 18 through Lucerne Valley was open to all traffic. State Road 38 through Mentone was open to residents only. Major portions of State Road 18 remained closed.
Hernandez faces grand theft charges, but that’s not the extent of his problems. A background check uncovered an active felony warrant for his arrest, according to authorities.
Also, deputies were contacted by the staff at a local hotel where Hernandez was temporarily staying. He had apparently left without checking out, and when staff members went to remove his property, they said they found two rifles and ammunition.
Deputies inspected the weapons and concluded they were not compliant with California law. Deputies then searched Hernandez’s vehicle and found an additional loaded handgun, officials said.
Hernandez now faces charges for weapons violations. He was being held in the West Valley Detention Center in lieu of $60,000 bail, according to law enforcement.
Officials provided no details about the snowplow, but such equipment is expensive. A standard plow attachment for a truck or tractor can range in cost from about $1,300 to more than $5,000.
Weather conditions continue to be challenging in the Big Bear region. Cold rain is expected Friday along with wind gusting as high as 30 mph. The rain is likely to hasten the melting of snow, which could contribute to flooding, road damage and debris flows.
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