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Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies arrest 4 for vehicle theft following Tucker’s Grove shelter in place

sbc vehicle theft suspects
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office
Samuel Torrez, Fabian Romero, Angel Ortiz and Anastasia Villegas

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies spent Thursday morning tracking down multiple vehicle theft suspects following the shelter in place order near Tucker's Grove.

Around 6:11 a.m., California Highway Patrol asked that Sheriff's deputies check the area of Turnpike Road and Calle Real in Santa Barbara after a stolen vehicle was reportedly seen there.

Deputy Reynoso responded to the area moments later and reportedly spotted the stolen vehicle parked on a side street.

Deputies report the vehicle immediately fled the scene north on Turnpike. Deputy Reynoso and Senior Deputy Henslin pursued the vehicle, however, they reported that before they were able to catch up with the vehicle, the driver lost control and crashed into the curb turning westbound onto Cathedral Oaks.

The crash destroyed the rear axle of the stolen truck. Deputies said the driver exited the vehicle and ran towards Tucker's Grove. One passenger remained in the truck and another passenger attempted to walk away from the scene.

The Sheriff's deputies arrested both suspects who remained on scene. They were later identified as 25-year-old Samuel Torrez of Lompoc and 27-year-old Anastasia Villegas of Santa Barbara.

Deputies then set up a perimeter in the surrounding area including Tucker's Grove and called in K-9 units to help search for the runaway driver. It was around 6:36 a.m. that residents within a half-mile radius of Tucker's Grove were sent a message to shelter in place.

The Sheriff's Office said 27-year-old Fabian Romero of Santa Maria was finally located by Deputy Scott and his K-9 partner Duke on the west end of Tucker's Grove. Romero was arrested at the scene without further incident.

The three who were arrested were booked into the Santa Barbara Main Jail on the following charges:

Torrez was booked for conspiracy and giving false information to a peace officer. His bail is set at $30,000. Deputies said Torrez was released from the Main Jail on zero bail just before this incident after being arrested by Santa Maria police for vehicle theft and possession of a controlled substance.

Villegas was booked on an outstanding no bail felony warrant for violating parole as well as obstructing a peace officer.

Romero was booked for vehicle theft, obstructing a peace officer, conspiracy, evading and a no bail probation violation hold.

The Sheriff's Office said that, in a separate but similar incident, deputies in Los Olivos arrested one person after another stolen vehicle crash.

Deputies responded to the 2800 block of Via Alta around 3:44 a.m. searching for someone who was reportedly looking into cars with a flashlight.

When they arrived at the scene, a car reportedly fled the area in the opposite direction as deputies at a high rate of speed. Deputies said the vehicle crossed Alamo Pintado before crashing into a tree near the dead end of Alta. This driver also fled on food. Deputies and K-9 units searched the area but were unable to find the runaway driver at the time.

The stolen vehicle was handed off to CHP who contacted the owners and filed a report.

Later that day, around 8:39 a.m., Sheriff's deputies received a call to return the 2800 block of Alta as someone was seen attempting to open the doors of a locked vehicle. The caller followed the suspect all the way to Foxen Canyon Road and Highway 154.

That is where deputies located 19-year-old Angel Ortiz of Santa Maria who matched the description of the suspect from the earlier vehicle theft.

Ortiz was arrested and booked at the Santa Barbara Main Jail for vehicle theft, grand theft, hit and run without injury, burglary and possession of stolen property. His bail was set at $85,000.

Article Topic Follows: Crime & Courts

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Jessica Brest

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