Santa Barbara police have arrested a man believed to be connected to more than 30 documented cases of graffiti vandalism in the city since July 2013.
Eduardo Robert Aguilar, 19, of Santa Barbara, is facing charges of felony vandalism and misdemeanor possession of vandalism tools.
Sgt. Riley Harwood said an investigation began after officers responded Dec. 10, 2013, to a report of a suspicious vehicle believed to be involved in drug activity in the 00 block of Santa Cruz Boulevard.
The officers contacted Aguilar and a companion, who Harwood said had been smoking marijuana in Aguilar's car.
According to Harwood, officers searched Aguilar's car and found a notebook with sketches of graffiti tagging and a backpack with aerosol paint cans. Harwood said Aguilar told the officers he was attending art classes and taking part in a community program for people with an interest in art.
One of the officers, who specialized in Crime Scene Investigation and had investigated and photographed more than 100 graffiti vandalism crime scenes, recognized some of the sketches in Aguilar’s notebook to resemble some recent cases of graffiti vandalism in of Santa Barbara., Harwood said. She photographed the contents of Aguilar’s notebook.
He was released with a citation for possession of marijuana.
The officer shared the information she had gleaned with Detective Ben Ahrens of the Police Department's Youth Services Section. Based on the information from Aguilar’s notebook, Ahrens tied Aguilar to more than 30 documented cases of graffiti vandalism in Santa Barbara since July 2013.
Harwood said the incidents occurred at various locations but were predominantly on the Westside. He added that the graffiti defaced more than 1,150 square feet of property and caused more than $21,500 in damage.
On Wednesday, Detective Ahrens obtained a search warrant for Aguilar’s residence in the 500 block of West Alamar Avenue, which he served with other detectives at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The search revealed several items possessed by Aguilar for the purpose of committing vandalism, such as aerosol paint cans and postal labels.
Aguilar was arrested, and Harwood said he admitted to committing 26 of the cases linked to him in the investigation.
Aguilar was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $20,000.