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SBPD releases surveillance images of couple suspected of break-ins at Storyteller Children’s Center

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A man and a woman caught on surveillance camera are suspected of breaking into the Storyteller Children's Center and at least one church, starting the first of the New Year.

Storyteller Children's Center (Beth Farnsworth/KEYT)

"We were ready to start 2022 with the children and unfortunately when we arrived Monday morning, we realized that we had been burglarized over the weekend," said Susan Cass, Executive Director. "And then, we took measures to increase the safety as soon as we possibly could and when we returned on Thursday morning to work, we found that we had been burglarized a second time."

Cass said employees noticed things missing and said the majority of items stolen were electronics.

Santa Barbara Police Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale confirmed the break-ins happened January 1 through January 5. He shared the surveillance images Wednesday with NewsChannel 3-12 in hopes that someone in the community might recognize their faces.

"It appears to be a man and a woman that appear to be either in their late to early thirties. And, it looks like they utilized burglary tools to illegally enter the children's center in order to commit theft," said Ragsdale. "It looks like they were able to obtain around $8,000 worth of property by committing these multiple burglaries that occurred over the course of five days."

The church next door on the 2100 block of State Street was also broken into. Ragsdale said surveillance images link the same couple to both break-ins.

The police spokesman was asked if detectives are seeing additional images of the same couple on surveillance cameras in other locations around town.

"Our detectives are actively looking at something like that," said Ragsdale. "Especially with the amount of surveillance footage that residents have, businesses have nowadays. It can take an extensive amount of time to comb through other surveillance footage that we may have obtained with these particular suspects in it."

Storyteller Children's Center serves homeless, low-income and at-risk children. Cass said seeing the facility targeted in the first place is disheartening.

"I think the hardest part about this whole experience is not really what they took but how we feel as a result of the burglaries," said Cass. "For me, personally, it felt like a violation of trust. I know for my team members it has done the same. We feel that we're here everyday trying to do good work and serving our community and to know that someone would choose us of all places to burglarize and not just once but twice in one week, it was just a big hit to morale for us."

Police detectives are actively looking for the names and locations of the individuals.

If you think you recognize the man or woman in the surveillance images, contact SBPD Detective McGrew at 805-897-2325. Callers can remain anonymous.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here

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