updated 9/30/2008 4:40:20 PM ET 2008-09-30T20:40:20

A group of suspected thieves in Kern County may need to learn the concept of "unmarked bills."

A restaurant known as The Homestead in the high desert town of Inyokern had a tradition of customers hanging dollar bills on its walls, usually inscribing them with messages and other distinguishing details.

Last week a man used 10 of the bills, some with the word "Homestead" on them, to pay a court fine, and a clerk immediately recognized them, Sheriff's Sgt. Tyson Davis said Monday.

Donald Dejarnette, 34, and four others have been arrested on suspicion of lifting $8,000 worth of the bills from the restaurant's walls, authorities said.

About $1,000 from the now-closed restaurant has been recovered, some of it from banks where the bills were traded in for larger currency.

A sheriff's deputy reached early Tuesday did not know whether any of the suspects has hired an attorney.

The restaurant has been shuttered and for sale for over a year, but the owner has kept it intact with the remaining bills still on the wall.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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