A string of robberies committed against elderly Santa Barbara residents throughout the month of June has led law enforcement officials to label the incidents a criminal trend. Police have not yet apprehended a suspect in any of the three cases.
The most recent theft occurred early in the afternoon of June 22, as a 77-year-old woman shopped at the Ralph’s grocery store on the 5100 block of Hollister Avenue. Security cameras recorded a black, four-door sedan as it dropped two female suspects off at the store. Once inside the store, footage shows one suspect talking to the victim to divert her attention while the other stole her wallet from a purse in the woman’s shopping cart.
Twenty minutes later, separate surveillance recorded a third female suspect as she used the victim’s credit card to purchase a $500 gift card from the Walgreens on 5900 block of Calle Real in Goleta. The woman then attempted to purchase a second $500 gift card, but this transaction was declined. (A bystander found the victim’s driver’s license in a nearby parking lot and mailed it back to her, though other stolen contents of the wallet have not yet been recovered.)
The burglary trend began with a June 4 robbery at the Albertsons grocery store on the 5700 block of Calle Real, according to the Sheriff’s Office. A Hispanic male suspect reportedly stopped an 82-year-old woman as she backed her car out of a parking space, warning that she was about to drive over a water bottle. When the woman stepped out of her car to move the bottle, the man stole her purse from the car.
Two weeks later, a suspect meeting the same physical description asked a 78-year-old woman to move her car in a parking lot on the 5800 block of Calle Real, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He then stole her purse from the passenger side of the car after she refused. Police believe this suspect to be the same man who committed the June 4 robbery, though neither incident is thought to be linked to the June 22 crime.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office asks citizens with information on any of these incidents call (805) 681-4100 to make a report.