July 18

Can you hear me now?

At 6:02 a.m. deputies were dispatched to the Chumash Casino on a report of a stolen cellular phone. They spoke with the victim, 57, of Grover Beach who said he left his Apple iPhone 4 on a gaming machine and returned to find it missing. He said it cost him $600. The deputy checked surveillance video showing a man sitting where the victim had been and stealing off with the phone.

Video was able to capture the license plate of the suspect’s truck, which supplied deputies with the suspect’s address and telephone number. When a deputy called, the man’s relative picked up and advised that they would have him call the deputy. The man called 45 minutes later from the Santa Maria Police Department, where he had turned in the phone. Asked why he didn’t turn it in at the casino, the man replied: “I got confused.” Believing the man never intended to return the phone, the deputy requested charges be filed against him.

July 21

A deep sleep

At 2:30 p.m., deputies were dispatched to the Chumash Casino parking structure on a report of an intoxicated man in a vehicle. They saw a man seated in the driver’s seat in a parked truck. Vomit was on the ground near the door. The man was asleep and his body slumped against the closed door. A deputy knocked on the window several times, but the man didn’t respond. He then opened the door and held the man to keep him from falling out. He smelled alcohol and saw a nearly full 12-ounce bottle of beer held between the man’s legs. He reached in and turned the engine off and removed the key. The man woke up but could not remember his name or where he was from. He had no identification on him or in his vehicle. The deputy arrested him and booked him into Santa Barbara County jail.

Of males and mailboxes

At 1:01 a.m. deputies responded to a report of male subjects vandalizing mailboxes in the area of Laurel Avenue and Alisal Road. They arrived and observed a mailbox head on the pavement. They continued westbound on Laurel Avenue and found other damaged mailboxes. The reporting party said he had heard voices, left his home and saw a group of males walking westbound. One of them, he recalled, grabbed his neighbor’s mailbox, broke off the post and threw it to the ground. They then continued toward Second Place and damaged more mailboxes. He was unable to provide suspect information, so deputies left the scene. At 1:48 a.m. they received another call from the witness, who said he saw the subjects again in the area of Alisal Road and Laurel Avenue.

Deputies responded and saw four males headed eastbound on Laurel Avenue, approaching their location. The reporting deputy heard a loud noise and saw one of the subjects strike the mailbox again with an unknown object. Deputies contacted the males, who all looked to be under the influence. They said they were returning from the Touch restaurant in Solvang, where they had a going-away party for one of the guys. They all denied damaging the mailboxes. But when the deputy separated them, two of the males admitted to either damaging mailboxes or seeing one of the other subjects damage a mailbox. They were all cited. They asked if they could make restitution and were advised that they could contact the victims and repair or replace their mailboxes.

Drug bust

Deputies on foot patrol in the Chumash Casino parking structure saw a white van running while unoccupied. They approached and saw a man sitting inside the rear passenger area. He was hunched over and appeared to be pushing something under the back of the seat. He had no identification and appeared to be under the influence. He said the van belonged to his friend and allowed them to search.

A deputy asked him if he recently used drugs, and the man said he hadn’t used methamphetamine in a month. But when the deputy brought up his symptoms, he admitted he may have smoked a fourth of a gram of mercury at midnight. Then he slumped his head and said, “Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t mean to lie to you.” Deputies found a pipe behind the passenger seat and arrested the man. The vehicle was locked and left at the scene. The man was transported to the Solvang Station and tested positive for amphetamines and THC. He was booked into Lompoc City Jail.

July 22

A matter of trust

Deputies responded to the 1600 block of Mission Drive in Solvang on a report of embezzlement. The victims worked out of the same office and employed the same administrative assistant who files paperwork and pays bills. One of the men said since Aug. 12, 2011, she has been transferring money into his business account, then writing herself checks and withdrawing money from the same account. He said she’d also been falsifying his Quick Books to disguise the fact that she was writing checks to herself.

She had cashed the checks she wrote to herself at Rabobank into her personal bank account. The other employer said he reviewed the accounts and discovered a check she made out to herself in the amount of $1,600. In all, she cashed 26 checks, in amounts of $500 to $1,600, using the company accounts. She wrote herself checks totaling around $30,000. The employers said she deposited money into wrong accounts to conceal the theft. For example, she told an H&R Block tenant in Guadalupe to stop paying rent to one account and make the checks payable to another. She would then deposit the rent check into the other account, write herself a check from that account and withdraw the funds. On July 25, the deputy confronted the woman at her office in Solvang. He showed her copies of the checks and asked her to explain how her name is on company checks with the man’s signatures. She claimed he allowed her to sign his name and that she reimburses herself from bills related to work. After the deputy told her the amount of the missing money from her employer’s account, the woman said, “That’s insane” and claimed her employer watched her sign his name when he was leaving the office. Later, she admitted he never “physically saw” her sign them. The deputy arrested and booked her into county jail and forwarded the case to the District Attorney’s Office for embezzlement charges.

July 23

Lovesick and text-happy

At 7:08 a.m. deputies were dispatched to the 2900 block of Steele Street on a report of possible threatening text messages.

The reporting party, of Los Olivos, said a month prior, she’d ended her relationship of four years. Since then, she had received numerous phone calls and approximately 25 text messages a day from her ex-boyfriend. She asked him to stop, but he continued. She said she didn’t believe he’d harm himself or her and thought he was trying to “guilt” her into contacting him. The woman said she didn’t want to press charges but instead wanted the incident documented. The deputy advised her about the process of obtaining a restraining order. He also got the man to agree that he would stop contacting her.

July 25

Passing the time

Deputies responded to Solvang Park on a report of a suspicious male. They located a vehicle occupied by a man who quickly hid an unknown object under the driver’s seat.

A deputy escorted him out and smelled alcohol and marijuana. He searched the vehicle and located a small black Baggie containing less than 1 ounce of marijuana. The man said he was in the parking lot waiting for his wife to leave work. He was cited and advised not to drive his vehicle due to his level of intoxication.