An elecrician has been arrested for stealing batteries from traffic signal boxes in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, police said.
Ricardo Eliceo Urizar, 28, an electrician from Los Angeles, was arrested by Newport Beach Police Department detectives last Monday in the 700 block of 87th Place in Los Angeles.
The investigation into the thefts began after a NBPD officer stopped Urizar for a traffic code violation and noticed 22 batteries in the bed of the truck he was driving.
“The officer made a [routine] traffic stop for a minor traffic violation,” said NBPD Crime Prevention Specialist and police spokesperson Kathy Lowe.
Urizar was driving a rented truck and wearing a reflective vest, according to a police statement.
Police started an investigation and detectives found that the locks had been cut off of traffic signal boxes at multiple locations in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, Lowe said.
Detectives checked various locations throughout the area and advised Costa Mesa police about the thefts, Lowe said.
Urizar allegedly intended to sell the batteries he had taken from the boxes, authorities said.
The batteries are used as backup power sources for the signals in case of a power failure.
“They might have gone undetected,” for some time, Lowe said.
CalTrans does check the boxes, she said, but was unsure of how often.
Police believe Urizar is responsible for similar thefts in other areas of Southern California, according to the statement.
Urizar was booked for grand theft. Bail was set at $20,000.
Anyone with additional information regarding these crimes is asked to call Detective Brad Miller at 949-644-3767.