Santa Barbara police officers recovered equipment stolen from firefighters from Manteca, CA, when they were sleeping near fire lines on Monday.


Santa Barbara police officers recovered equipment stolen from firefighters from Manteca, CA, when they were sleeping near fire lines on Monday.

Thomas Fire ‘Lurkers’ Arrested

Crimes of Opportunity’ Charged and a Cannabis Lab Found

Reports of people dressed as utility servicemen generated fears about looting in several neighborhoods under mandatory evacuation orders. But the Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday no such suspects had been arrested.

The one Sheriff’s Office arrest that did occur was on Monday, December 11 at 6:30 a.m. on El Bosque Road, a Montecito street north of Highway 192 and east of San Ysidro Road. The suspect, Cesar Flores, a 31-year-old Santa Barbara man, was seen “prowling on private property that had been evacuated due to the Thomas Fire,” Sheriff’s spokesperson Kelly Hoover wrote in an email. “He appeared to be attempting to steal a bicycle. When firefighters made contact, the suspect fled the area. He was found and seemed to be under the influence of a controlled substance. Sheriff’s deputies charged him with entering a disaster area, loitering, possessing burglary tools, and being under the influence of drugs in public.

Two days later, Sheriff’s deputies received a report from firefighters of a butane honey oil extraction lab on the 2200 block of Bella Vista Drive. Firefighters doing structure protection discovered drug paraphernalia “in plain view” on the property. It included 300-500 pounds of trimmed marijuana, butane fuel, hash, a small grade extraction lab, and a small amount of the finished product. No arrests have been made, but Sheriff’s detectives have identified potential suspects.

The Santa Barbara Police Department arrested two men — Michyl Jordan, 25, and Joshua Campbell, 18 — who allegedly stole firefighter gear from crews from Manteca, California, while they slept in a tent in the Carpinteria area a couple hundred yards from the front lines. Police had received reports of a hit-and-run on Milpas Street, and after a vehicle pursuit, arrested the suspects on Gutierrez Street last Monday, December 18. Anthony Wagner, police department public information officer, said one of the stolen items was a $1,000 helmet that had a memento inside from a friend who had died. Wagner described the suspects as “lurkers” attempting to commit “a crime of opportunity.”

On Tuesday night at about 8:30 p.m., Sheriff’s deputies responded to reports made by a property manager of burglary in progress at a residence in the 1000 block of Channel Drive in Montecito, according to the department. The property manager caught someone on a surveillance camera lurking around the property. Deputies found Adam Smith, 32, of Lompoc inside the house and arrested him. He was charged with residential burglary. He had four outstanding warrants, according to the Sheriff’s Office, and he is being held without bail.

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