A suspected gang member was arrested Friday after he and several companions allegedly stole property from a local department store, then fled in a vehicle as officers tried to apprehend them, according to the Santa Maria Police Department.
Gabriel Valencia, 38, of Santa Maria was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on suspicion of commercial burglary and felony evading arrest, said Sgt. Daniel Cohen.
An officer on patrol saw Valencia flee the JCPenney store in the 1300 block of South Broadway at about 12:50 p.m. carrying stolen property, Cohen said. The suspect then jumped into a waiting vehicle, which sped away.
The officer pursued with lights and siren, but broke off the chase for safety reasons due to heavy lunchtime traffic on Broadway, Cohen said.
Valencia stopped the vehicle in an alley and fled on foot, Cohen said. Officers found the vehicle and other evidence, which led them to Valencia as the suspect.
He was taken into custody about 1:35 p.m. when an officer saw him in the back of a passing vehicle in the 500 block of East Church Street, Cohen said.
There were at least two other suspects in the vehicle, Cohen said, and police were asking that anyone with information about the incident contact them at 805.928.3781.