Mike Hurst was driving down the street in San Bernardino County earlier this month when he saw a man dressed in an orange vest walking away from a fire hydrant.
Hurst, an 11-year-old veteran of the West Valley Water District, lost track of the man as he left in what looked like a white utility truck. But Hurst, 34, had taken the first meaningful step in solving the case of the missing fire hydrants in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
On Tuesday, Hurst was driving on Riverside Avenue in Rialto when he again saw the truck. This time, he decided to conduct a stakeout, following the man to the parking lot of gas station, and then to a house in Rubidoux, west of Riverside.
Hurst called a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s scrap metal theft investigator. The next morning, deputies arrested Brian Burian and charged him with allegedly making off with 45 fire hydrants in a broad area of the Inland Empire.