Last week, after a young man and woman attempted to purchase a sweatshirt from the J7 surf store on Cota Street with a stolen credit card and then quickly fled the scene, the store’s crew not only called the police but they tracked down the perpetrators themselves with a little bit of old-fashioned detective work. The trouble began shortly before 2 p.m. on January 7, when 20-year-old Santa Barbara resident Dana Morgan allegedly tried to use a credit card she had recently stolen from a waitress at State Street’s Sharkeez bar. When J7 shop manager Leanna Bertolazzo recognized the name on the card and asked for additional identification, the suspect snatched the stolen card back and fled. Minutes later, J7 owner Jason Feist and graphic artist Benny Bermudez arrived and, after learning about the attempted illegal purchase, quickly sprang into action. Taking to the streets and, in the words of Bermudez, “trying to get into the head of a thief,” the two began driving the neighborhood looking for the couple. After speaking with neighboring businesses the duo had visited-Church of Skatan and The Hemp Store among them-the J7 crew found the suspected purse snatcher and her companion lurking in the parking lot of Smart & Final on East Gutierrez Street. “Basically, that’s when we made our move,” recalled Feist. After calling 911, team J7 sprang from their vehicles, confronted the girl, and detained her until the police arrived several minutes later-but not before Morgan allegedly took several long pulls off a bottle of Jim Beam stolen minutes before from Smart & Final. According to Santa Barbara Police Department spokesperson Sergeant Lorenzo Duarte, Morgan was charged with two felonies-petty theft with a prior and burglary as well as a misdemeanor.
from left: Jason Feist, Benny Bermudez (holding faco), Leanna Bertolazzo (with recovered purse), Tarik Khashoggi, and purse owner Randi Berman.