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'Missing' Driver Arrested by Police

Replacement worker is held after officers investigating his disappearance find the Albertsons truck being emptied of its cargo.

October 23, 2003|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

An Oklahoma man hired as a temporary driver at an Albertsons distribution center in Brea was arrested Wednesday for allegedly selling meat from a company truck in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.

Pinkey J. Hurley III was arrested early Wednesday when officers found the 18-wheeler he was assigned parked near 6th Street and Santa Fe Avenue. The trailer doors were open and at least one person was unloading meat into the back of a parked car, said Brea Police Sgt. Jack Conklin.

Brea police had opened an investigation at 3 a.m. Wednesday, when employees at the distribution center reported that he had driven off with $100,000 worth of meat at 6 a.m. Tuesday and had not returned. Hurley, 34, was supposed to transport the meat to four L.A.-area stores.

"This all began as a missing person report," Conklin said. "When Hurley failed to return by 10 p.m. Tuesday, [employees at the distribution center] began getting concerned."

Hurley, who lives in Oklahoma City, had been on the job for only two days, Conklin said. He was a contract driver for an East Coast company that has provided drivers to Albertsons during the current supermarket labor dispute.

A company official called police later with news that the missing truck had been spotted in Los Angeles.

Brea police asked Los Angeles police to investigate, but by the time officers arrived, Hurley and the truck were gone. Later, officers on patrol found the vehicle parked near 6th Street and Santa Fe Avenue, where people were picking out favorite cuts.

Investigators said they determined that he had sold a small portion of the truck's contents. Hurley was booked at Brea City Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail on suspicion of embezzlement, grand theft and burglary.

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