Aug. 24

Up and away

At 4:42 a.m. deputies were dispatched to a hotel in Solvang. The night clerk reported a small helicopter his father had given him, and valued at $76, stolen. He brought the plane to work and plugged it into an electrical socket in the hotel lobby to charge. He then stepped away into the back office to fax something and returned to find it missing. The deputy searched the area for evidence or witnesses to no avail. The case was suspended, pending leads.

Aug. 29

Unlocked vehicles

At 8:17 a.m. a man called to report that between 5:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., his vehicle, unlocked, had been tampered with. He had parked his vehicle in his driveway and noticed that someone had taken the key and remote for his vehicle. He didn’t know who might have burglarized his vehicle. The deputy found fingerprints on the vehicle and sent the results to the Sheriff’s Department Forensics Bureau for examination. The case was suspended, pending leads.

At 7:15 a.m. deputies were dispatched to Fifth Street regarding theft from a vehicle. The victim said the day before at 7:30 a.m., he arrived home and parked his vehicle in front of his apartment. He went and checked on his vehicle a few hours later and noticed someone had rummaged through the truck. Several personal belongings were missing: a $250 stereo system; a $450 Sony video camera; and a $400 digital camera. The thief, however, did not take his iPad. The deputy dusted the vehicle but was unable to lift any prints. The case was suspended, pending leads.

Aug. 31

Took a bad turn

At 7:11 p.m. a deputy driving westbound on Highway 154 and approaching the Highway 246 intersection saw a pick-up truck a few vehicles ahead suddenly weave left over the double-yellow lines and then slowly drift back into the lane. Upon reaching the intersection, the truck attempted to make a left but jerked to a stop to avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle in the opposite lane. The deputy activated his overhead lights and siren, but the vehicle continued on for several miles before stopping. The vehicle pulled near Park and Ride without signaling. The deputy approached the rear-passenger door and ordered the driver to show his hands; he couldn’t see the man’s left hand and drew his handgun into a low ready position for his safety. The man, 44, scowled at the deputy, shook his right hand and refused to show his left hand for a couple minutes. The man said he was coming from Agoura Hills, but the deputy noted he’d seen him pull out from the Cachuma Lake entrance. The deputy smelled alcohol and the driver at first denied drinking alcohol but quickly admitted he had. The deputy requested the California Highway Patrol respond to conduct a DUI investigation. The vehicle was towed to a nearby commercial lot.

Sept. 1

Man reports missing wife

A man called authorities to report that his wife, who suffers from mental illness, had left their home and was a threat to herself. The reporting party also said he believed his wife was with her 20-year-old son, who may have been under the influence of heroin. The man said she was a danger to herself because she had not taken her medication. The deputy agreed to locate the woman’s whereabouts, but learned that the man had made no such effort – instead he was headed to a store to buy a birthday gift for his daughter. The husband also said though he was concerned for his wife’s safety, she had left their home several times in the past and had always returned. The deputy called the woman, who was at a hotel in Solvang. He met her there and she stated she’d left because she and her husband had gotten into an argument, and that she had taken her medication and was not feeling depressed or a danger to herself. The deputy noted she didn’t behave strangely or display symptoms of being under the influence of a controlled substance. He called the husband and informed him of the status of his wife.

A good friend is hard to find

A woman called authorities to report that a friend had stolen her money at the Chumash Casino. On Aug. 29 at 11 p.m. she had driven to the casino with two friends. She played roulette and poker, and remembered showing one of the friends an envelope in her purse that contained $340. She used – and lost on gambling – $40 and had wanted to use the rest as a security deposit for her apartment. A couple days later, she retrieved her purse from her vehicle and noticed the envelope open and her money missing. She confronted her friend about the missing money, but he denied taking it. The woman couldn’t explain how the man might have stolen her money; she was sure he took it because he was the only one who knew it was in her purse. The deputy called the accused, who denied stealing the money. The other friend said he didn’t take the money and hadn’t seen anything unusual that night. The deputy informed the woman that she would have to file a report with the casino before they would look at video surveillance. He documented the incident and told her there was no evidence to suggest the man had stolen her money.

Sept. 3

Temper, temper

At 7:54 deputies were dispatched to the Chumash Casino regarding a female bus driver who wanted to file a report against a man who had threatened her. The man had threatened the bus driver two days before, and had threatened her again when he saw her at the casino. He was asked to leave the property and had been last seen heading west toward Solvang. The casino employee said she was driving a bus on the afternoon of Sept. 1 and stopped at Ross in Goleta to pick up passengers. A woman entered and said a man had threatened to beat her husband for not lending him money. Shortly thereafter, the accused man entered the bus and threatened the other passenger’s husband. The bus driver asked the man to step aside and allow other riders to board so she could talk him off the bus. The man became enraged, cursing at her and spitting in her direction several times. The driver called 911, but the dispatcher would not send a deputy because she couldn’t locate the cross street where the bus was parked. The driver hung up and called casino security to report the incident on her behalf. The man tried once more to enter the bus and then threatened to cut the driver before finally leaving. During the interview, dispatch informed deputies that the man had been found on Mission Drive in Solvang. The man, 46, of Santa Maria refused to talk about the incident, claiming he already had lawsuits pending over an injury suit and stated he wanted an attorney present. Moments later, he said, “Sometimes I get mad and say things, OK?” but he still denied being involved in the altercation. After being positively identified by the victim, he was arrested and booked into county jail.

Sept. 4

Man suspected of shooting parents

One subject died and another was in critical condition after a shooting at Orcutt Community Park. The suspect, 40, of Santa Maria, was taken into custody a short time later after showing up at a hospital for an unrelated medical reason. Deputies had responded to reports of shots fired at the park shortly after 6 p.m. the California Highway Patrol was in the immediate area and first on the scene. A 911 caller reported that a male, believed to be the suspect, left the park in a black jeep after firing multiple shots. Deputies arrived at the park and found a male victim dead and a female victim critically wounded. She was rushed to a nearby hospital. At about 6:15 p.m. the Santa Maria Police Department found the suspect’s jeep abandoned on the Stowell Road Overpass. At 6:30 p.m. hospital personnel called law enforcement and said the homicide suspect showed up at the hospital for an unrelated medical issue. Deputies responded and took him into custody without incident. He is believed to be the son of the victims, but the exact cause of the shooting is still under investigation. The suspect was booked into county jail.