MONTEBELLO (CBSLA) — Three men have been arrested in connection with stealing a Montebello police vehicle that was found stripped and dumped in the Angeles National Forest.

Eddy Saldivar, 22, and Hunter Crist, 21, both of Montebello, and 21-year-old Matthew Moran of Commerce were arrested this week in connection with the theft of a Montebello police SUV on May 17. All three men were booked on suspicion of grand theft auto and possession of stolen property, but have since been released.

(credit: Montebello Police Department)

According to the Montebello police, the cruiser went missing on May 17 and was found more than a month later off Highway 2, in a remote area of the Angeles National Forest. Police say it had been stripped of its parts and police equipment. A portion of the loaded AR-15 was recovered with the vehicle, which had been pushed over an embankment off an access road.

Since the vehicle was found, investigators identified several persons of interest in connection with the theft who were also believed to be in possession of illegal weapons and police vehicle equipment, police said. That investigation led to search warrants that were served on Monday and turned up several items taken from the stolen police vehicle.

Some of the items recovered that had been kept in the police cruiser included a Remington shotgun, parts of a rifle, and a red and blue light bar from the top of the vehicle. Montebello police say the light bar was confirmed to be the property of its department.

The trio is also suspected in the February theft of about $26,000 in police radios stolen from decommissioned police vehicles that were parked in the parking lot of the Montebello Unified School District Police. Police say one of the police radios was found at the home of one of the suspects, and all three had police-type equipment installed in their personal vehicles, including some of the items stripped from the stolen police cruiser.

Crist is scheduled to make his appearance in court Wednesday, followed by Saldivar on Thursday. Moran is scheduled to be in court on Sept. 6.

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