The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is requesting the public’s assistance to help locate a fugitive who escaped after stealing several vehicles and who went the wrong way twice on Highway 101 to avoid being arrested.
The suspect, 29-year-old Juan Miguel Bejar of Oxnard, is considered dangerous and may be armed. If you see Bejar, you should not engage him but should call law enforcement immediately.
The Sheriff’s Department has also learned that the Ventura Police Department had a similar incident on Dec. 5 that involved a theft followed by a pursuit where the suspect and the vehicle matching the same description went the wrong way on the freeway several times while being pursued by law enforcement.
At about 3:25 a.m. Saturday, sheriff’s deputies responded to the 4100 block of Via Real to a report of couple who witnessed its car being stolen in front of its residence. When the suspect, who was later identified as Bejar, saw the couple, he verbally threatened to use a firearm although no weapon was seen. The victims ran back into the house and the suspect took off in their car.
Bejar crashed at the scene and jumped into a green van that was waiting for him with his brother and wife inside. The green van was reported stolen out of the city of Oxnard. A high-speed chase ensued but was called off for safety reasons when Bejar drove onto Highway 101 at Santa Monica Road going southbound in the northbound lanes.
Sheriff’s deputies spotted the vehicle again shortly afterwards on Upson Road and Santa Monica Road. Bejar drove back onto Highway 101 at Padaro Lane, again going the wrong direction. This time, he drove northbound in the southbound lanes.
As per policy, sheriff’s deputies paralleled him on the right side of the freeway. He made a U-turn at Sheffield Drive and got back on the freeway going southbound in the correct direction. A sheriff’s deputy used a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver to disable the vehicle.
Bejar fled on foot and despite search efforts by sheriff’s deputies, who were assisted by a Sheriff’s K9 Unit, the suspect was not located.
His wife, 24-year-old Sandra Lopez, and his brother, 28-year-old Jose Bejar, both of Oxnard, were arrested and charged with attempted burglary, receiving stolen property, conspiracy and possession of a controlled substance.
Sheriff’s deputies searched the stolen vehicle and found stolen property and burglary tools. The reported firearm was not located.
Bejar has an extensive criminal history. If you have any information on Bejar’s whereabouts or if you see him, call 9-1-1. You can also leave an anonymous tip at 805.681.4171.
— Kelly Hoover is a public information specialist for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.