A 44-year-old man who goes by Keawe or the nickname “Pineapple” is suspected of conning Santa Barbara County women out of jewelry and overstaying his welcome at their homes, according to a Sheriff’s Office warning issued Thursday. Pending District Attorney’s Office charges against Stephen Keawe Kekuewa, authorities are warning locals of his tactics: “using various scams to trick women into inviting him into their homes and then using the opportunity to steal from them.”
Described as “a very suave and skilled storyteller,” Kekuewa reportedly meets women at the bar and tells them he’s a former Navy SEAL who owns a lighting company in the movie industry. He claims to own an alleged property next to the Reagan Ranch, as well as other high-end properties and ranches across the country, read the Sheriff’s Office warning. Reportedly a homeless person living out of his car, Kekuewa has given some women stolen jewelry to gain their trust.
Once Kekuewa is invited into a victim’s home, “he makes convenient excuses to spend the night, come and wash his clothes, or offers to do handyman work around the property to justify his continuing presence,” said the Sheriff’s Office. In the process, he pockets jewelry and other items, authorities say.
They suspect he has removed door locks from women’s houses and made spare keys; “He is believed to commonly enter these residences later when the women are gone in order to sleep on the floor, wash his clothes,” and steal. The alleged conman is known to invite women to these homes he pretends to own.
Last week, law enforcement officials cited Kekuewa for being an unlicensed driver and for having expired and fake registration on his black 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe. The S.U.V. was impounded, and that day Kekuewa allegedly sought help from a Fresno woman he had recently met. Saying his home burned down with his car inside, he convinced the woman to have family members drive him from Santa Maria to Fresno, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Fresno authorities, who had previously named the woman a possible victim, responded to her home once they realized Kekuewa was there. They stood by while the suspected con artist cleared out. Anyone with information on the case is asked to leave an anonymous tip for the Sheriff’s Office at (805) 681-4171.