What looked like workers doing late-night repairs in an Old Dixie Highway manhole on Sunday were not doing repairs for AT&T, according to Homestead Police, but instead stole AT&T.
Cops say they found 50 pieces of copper wire wrapped in black tubes, which they valued at $ 10,000 if sold legally, but $ 30,000 if the copper was sold on the black market.
The quintet arrested around 12:40 am Sunday was Ivan Perez Garcia, a 55-year-old southerner from Miami-Dade; Yordan Ramirez of West Miami-Dade, 41; Francisco Gutierrez of Miami, 50; and Ermes Gonzalez-Pando de Hialeah, 43, and Eric Gonzalez-Pando, 24. All were charged with theft of copper from a utility or community service provider causing damage and criminal mischief.
Ramirez, who was also charged with carrying a concealed weapon, was on $ 15,000 bail after being arrested on the same charges in August.
At the hole, around midnight
Homestead Police said a previous theft of copper wire explained how the operation worked:
Thieves would cut the copper wire, then comb it to hide any damage from AT&T. After waiting a few days to make sure their masking trick worked, they showed up in full workman attire, including construction hats and traffic vests, with trucks and equipment to remove the wiring. .
Around midnight on Sunday in the 1300 block of Old Dixie Highway, a Homestead agent saw five trucks that looked like the trucks suspected of being involved in the wire thefts. He saw a man wearing a hard hat in the manhole pulling the wiring out of the hole, assisted by four similarly dressed men.
A phone call to an AT&T investigator confirmed that no team was scheduled to work in the area.
Arrest reports say Copper was sitting in a trailer pulled by a Chevrolet Silverado 2500 driven by Perez-Garcia. Perez-Garcia does not work for AT&T. Police said he claimed he was hired to drive the truck, but could not tell them the company that hired him.
About half a mile away, Eric Gonzalez-Pando claimed a similar amnesia after saying he was hired a week ago to drive a white GMC truck and direct traffic. He also couldn’t tell them his agreed hourly rate.
The others have not demanded anything except their Miranda rights to remain silent. Police said Ramirez carried a Smith & Wesson .380 caliber pistol that was declared lost by Hialeah police on December 20, along with a black .357 handgun.
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