Two arrested in string of burglaries
SANTA BARBARA — Two Carpinteria men were arrested Wednesday and are accused of committing at least seven burglaries within the southern portion of the county over the past month, police said.
Detectives with the Santa Barbara Police Department executed search and arrest warrants Wednesday for Luis Octavio Soto, 35, and Robert Xavier Arzate, 24, following a month-long investigation. Both men were taken into custody, said Capt. Marylinda Arroyo, police spokeswoman.
Detectives discovered Mr. Soto and Mr. Arzate had been involved in a string of local robberies, and the pair are accused of taking advantage of the COVID-related business closures. Police say the two men targeted elementary schools, community centers, medical offices and financial offices.
They used “advanced techniques to surreptitiously enter a number of businesses, in a concerted effort to avoid detection,” Capt. Arroyo said, adding that detectives suspect more burglaries will be reported after businesses reopen.
During the service of the search warrant, police recovered stolen property, including laptops designed for elementary school students, as well as burglary tools such as lock picking equipment, crow bars, bolt cutters, vehicle lockout tool kits and kitchen utensils improvised into devices to open door latches.
The SBPD Property Crimes Unit reminds businesses and residents to take security measures to deter thieves, including extra lighting and visible security cameras that may cause a building to be a less attractive target. In addition, authorities said security measures should be used on any exterior door, especially if it is hidden from public view.
Exterior doors should be protected with a deadbolt, and both the latch and the bolt should be covered by the door jamb or by a metal guard.
— Mitchell White
Man arrested in sex crimes case
SANTA BARBARA — A Los Angeles man surrendered himself to local authorities Wednesday in connection with an ongoing investigation into unlawful sexual activities.
Vincente Lopez Ceballos, 25, turned himself in to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday on a warrant for unlawful sexual activity. The arrest stems from an initial investigation that resulted in the April 2019 arrest of 54-year-old Gregory Scott Ray, who is currently in custody and facing 28 felony and three misdemeanor charges related to his sexual involvement with 12 male juvenile victims.
The victims range in age from 13 to 17, with some of the offenses dating back to 2007, said Raquel Zick, sheriff’s spokeswoman.
During the investigation, detectives discovered Mr. Ceballos and Mr. Ray engaged in sexual acts simultaneously with a 14-year-old boy, according to a news release. Mr. Ceballos was arrested Wednesday on a warrant for opal copulation of a person under 16 and on suspicion of sodomony of a person under 16. He is being held in County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Detectives have interviewed numerous victims but believe there may be others who have not been contacted.
Anyone with information about these allegations or information that may lead to the discovery of other victims are urged to contact Detective Vasquez at 805-934-6170.
To leave an anonymous tip, call 805-681-4171 or visit www.sbsheriff.org/anonymous-tip/.
— Mitchell White
Officials exploring options to improve Goleta offramp
GOLETA–Caltrans District 5 and the city of Goleta are working to improve conditions at the Highway 101 northbound offramp at Glen Annie and Storke Road.
The offramp has experienced a higher level of vehicle traffic during peak hours, which has resulted in delays and congestion that have extended to the beginning of the offramp.
Following a review of vehicular data and inspection of the ramp, Caltrans officials suggested trimming the vegetation for improved sight distance and installing a recommended speed sign of 45 mph that could help alleviate the congestion along the long ramp, according to a news release.
Caltrans will continue to monitor the ramp to determine if any further improvements are needed.
Caltrans, the city of Goleta and Santa Barbara County Association of Governments are also looking at future solutions and funding to address congestion along the 101 west of Fairview Avenue.
Officials remind motorists to move over and slow down when driving through highway construction zones.
Officer involved in shooting identified
SANTA MARIA — The Santa Maria Police Department has identified Officer Ethan Brown, a 2.5-year veteran of that department, as the officer involved in last weekend’s shooting at Boomers Miniature Golf Arcade.
The incident occurred around 1 p.m. Sunday at the arcade, 2250 N. Preisker Lane.
Police said a suspect was observed waving a gun in front of numerous people. Officers responded and observed the suspect brandishing a handgun.
Officer Brown discharged his firearm and struck the suspect, whose identity remains withheld pending a further investigation by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, authorities said.
The suspect continues to receive treatment at a local hospital after suffering a non-life threatening injury, police said.
— Mitchell White