Copper thieves damage HVAC units in Indio

INDIO, Calif. - Two men were arrested today on suspicion of trying to steal copper from  high-volume air conditioning units at an Indio beverage distribution business, a police spokesman said.

Gale Joaquin Sims, 32, of Indio, and Michael Earnest Pena, 34, of Coachella, were arrested on suspicion of theft at Gate City Beverage at 82-309 Market St., Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said.

Damage to the air conditioning system was put at $18,000, he said.

Officers responding to roughly 12:40 a.m. alarm saw a red light flashing on the roof, then Sims climbing off the roof, he said, adding that Sims was caught trying to scramble away.

Using a fire department ladder, officers got onto the roof of the business and found Pena hiding in part of the roof structure containing the air conditioning equipment.

Pena was being held in lieu of $18,000 bail, and Sims in lieu of $25,000 bail, according to jail records. Sims had two warrants for drug-related offenses and possession of burglary tools, Guitron said.

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