Long Beach police have arrested two city laborers and charged them with stealing more than 300 pounds of aluminum signs that they sold to a scrap yard, city officials said Wednesday.

Thomas O'Brien, 26, and Ivan Maxwell, 28, were both charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, officials said.

Both men were arrested this week and given desk appearance tickets directing them to appear in Long Beach City Court on Jan. 31, city Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said.

"On the theory that where there's smoke, there's fire, we are continuing to investigate, but we don't have reason to believe it's widespread," Tangney said of the scope of the theft.

O'Brien and Maxwell were assigned to the city's sign shop, and are accused of selling 323 pounds of aluminum signs owned by the City of Long Beach to a local scrap metal yard during the past six months, officials said.

The men were paid the scrap value of $171 in total for the signs, Tangney said, but the actual value to the city could not be determined because the signs had already melted down and it was not possible to show they were usable.

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He said he would not identify the scrap yard because its management was cooperating in the investigation.

"These two employees abused the taxpayers' trust by stealing city property," city manager Jack Schnirman said in a statement. "This type of behavior will never be tolerated, and the two employees have been fired."

O'Brien and Maxwell were both part-time $10 per hour workers, officials said. Maxwell was hired in 2003 and O'Brien in 2006, officials said.

Neither could immediately be reached for comment.