Sunday, October 4 , 2015, 2:55 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 61º

Public Help Locate Suspect in Farm Burglaries

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

Shaun Axe
Shaun Axe

An anonymous tip has helped the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department locate a third suspect sought in connection with a string of burglaries at farms in the unincorporated area of Santa Maria.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Shaun Axe, 32, of Santa Maria around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at a residence where he was staying in the 1100 block of South Western Avenue in Santa Maria, according to Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department.

One day after authorities asked for help locating Axe, he was taken into custody and booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of burglary, grand theft, felony vandalism and conspiracy, Hoover said. Bail was set at $20,000.

Deputies in the rural crimes unit had already arrested two Santa Maria residents in connection with the crimes, which involved breaking into at least four farms and stealing about $70,000 worth of equipment, vehicles and tools, Hoover said.

After more than a month-long investigation, deputies last week arrested Travis Grant, 30, and Ernest Johnson, 33. Hoover said Grant was charged with burglary, grand theft, felony vandalism and conspiracy, and Johnson faces possession of stolen property charges.

Hoover said the investigation began last Christmas Eve, when deputies took a burglary report at Agro-Jal Farms on the west side of Santa Maria. On Christmas, Nearby Babe Farms was also burglarized. 

Travis Grant
Travis Grant

In both cases, she said thieves broke into numerous sheds and storage containers and stole tools and equipment. 

On Dec. 26, 2013, the suspects allegedly returned to Babe Farms and were in the process of burglarizing the property when an employee arrived to work at 3:30 a.m. and interrupted them, Hoover said.  

The employee saw the suspects take off in separate vehicles, and deputies also found a third partially dismantled truck — all of which had been stolen from farms in the area, she said.

Ernest Johnson
Ernest Johnson

Sheriff’s deputies recovered the vehicles and found stolen equipment from Babe Farms, Encino Valley Farms, Fresh Bounty Farms and Agro-Jal, Hoover said. They also recovered additional stolen farm equipment at a residence in Santa Maria, where one of the vehicles was located.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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