Three men arrested following treasure hunt in New York City's sewers
Manhole cover New York City (Shutterstock)

Three men hoping to find valuables in New York City's extensive sewer system were facing criminal charges for climbing through a manhole cover and spending several hours on a treasure hunt in the muck-filled caverns, authorities said on Friday.

A spokesman for the New York City Police Department said Marquise Evans, 21, dislodged a manhole cover on a street in Brooklyn late on Wednesday and allowed two other men to climb inside.

Witnesses called police, and responding officers and firefighters, outfitted in protective garb, followed the men but could not locate the pair, the spokesman said.

About four hours later, the two men, identified as David Hannibal, 45, and Damion Nieves, 35, emerged and were taken into custody, police said.

The men had taken metal detectors with them into the sewer in the hopes of finding valuables flushed or dropped down toilets and drain pipes, the spokesman said.

They came up empty-handed, police said.

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters he didn't know what specifically the men had hoped to find.

“I know, damn sure, I wouldn’t be crawling through the sewers of New York, but these three evidently were," he said.

Evans, a trainee at the city Department of Environmental Protection, which maintains the sewer system, was facing a string of charges including reckless endangerment and criminal facilitation.

It was unclear how he intended to plead to the charges or if he had obtained an attorney. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

He has been suspended from the Department of Environmental Protection pending an investigation, the agency told the New York Times.

Hannibal and Nieves were facing charges of criminal trespassing. They could not immediately be reached for comment via social media accounts.

There are more than 6,000 miles (9,500 km)of sewer pipes below New York City's five boroughs. Over 1 billion gallons of wastewater moves through the system each day, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Alison Williams)