Cops Flush Out Suspect from Sewage Hideout

Fugitive hides in sewage drain

A subterranean standoff has finally come to an end.

Several lanes of the San Diego (405) Freeway in North Hills were blocked Tuesday as police tried to get a burglary suspect out of a drainage area near the freeway.

After about 12 hours, the suspect finally agreed to come out.

The closure on the southbound San Diego Freeway at Roscoe Boulevard began just after 3 a.m. when Los Angeles police began searching for the suspect, California Highway Patrol Officer Patrick Kimball said.

"He's not stuck because he's able to move freely in that tunnel, backwards and forwards," said Capt. Nick Zingo. "From what we've been told from Caltrans, the tunnel might be in the vicinity of 70 yards or longer. He's moving himself to the middle of the tunnel, where he's making it very difficult for rescue personnel and fire personnel to go in there. Then you have to have certain training to work in a confined space. You also have the gases that are down there. It's basically a drainage ditch for a sewer."

Los Angeles Police Department officers were sent to the area after a burglary was reported at a nearby warehouse, said LAPD Officer Bruce Borihanh of the Media Relations Section.

One man was arrested, and a second man fled into a storm drain by the freeway, Borihanh said. City firefighters were also dispatched to the scene in case the suspect was trapped inside the enclosed space.

Melvin Kay, the owner of the warehouse at 8000 Haskell Ave., which formerly housed an auto parts company named Performance Products, told Fox11 News he was notified early Tuesday morning about a problem at his property, went there with an armed guard and found an apparent break-in.

"We got out of the building and called the LAPD," he told Fox11 News. "The LAPD came out en masse and really did an unbelievable job of coordinating the search and a half-hour later, they did find someone trying to get out of the north end of the parking lot."

Kay said he believed the crooks were trying to steal copper wire from his warehouse. "You get a lot of money for taking copper wire out of buildings," he told Fox11.

A SigAlert was declared and all southbound lanes were shut down about 4:20 a.m., the CHP reported. The carpool lanes and No. 1 lane were reopened just before 5 a.m., but the right three lanes remained closed as police worked to arrest the man.

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