Four men suspected of stealing fuel from local farms and ranches are facing burglary, grand-theft and other charges after being arrested by rural-crimes investigators, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Over several months, 17 cases of stolen fuel were reported, said Sgt. Mark Williams.
The value of the stolen fuel exceeded $5,600, Williams said.
In June, a sheriff’s deputy interrupted a nighttime burglary on a local farm, where fuel and other equipment were in the process of being stolen.
In July, Julio Rodriguez-Bautista, 28, of Santa Maria was taken into custody in connection with that incident, Williams said.
Subsequent investigation led to a total of four suspects from the Santa Maria and Nipomo areas, Williams said, adding that some 350 gallons of stolen fuel was found on one of the suspect’s ranch in Nipomo.
Rodriguez-Bautista was rearrested about two weeks ago, Williams said. Also taken into custody were Jose Antonio Rojas, 43, of Santa Maria, and Martin Uvias Jacobo, 43, and Leandro Diaz Perez, 49, of Nipomo.
They were charged with burglary, grand theft, possession of stolen property, conspiracy, filing a false police report and petty theft, Williams said.
All were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.