A golf cart used by a local homeless shelter to patrol Santa Barbara’s Eastside was stolen Friday afternoon but luckily located five hours later around the corner from where it was high-jacked outside an area business.
Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter security guard Eddie Parreguire had parked the battery-powered golf cart in the lot outside the business while he chatted with the owner during his hourly rounds of the neighborhood, according to Sharon Byrne, executive director of the Milpas Community Association, which raised the $2,100 to purchase the cart.
“He came back out, and the cart was gone,” Byrne said. “Isn’t that terrible?”
Parreguire has been using the cart since May to patrol the area’s homeless, rousing them from slumber at business storefronts and preventing loitering or open abuse of alcohol and other substances.
Byrne and other MCA members quickly put out an alert and launched a search of the immediate area for the white cart, which travels up to 25 mph with a battery that lasts just a couple of hours before a charge is required.
Sure enough, the cart was located about five hours later by MCA president Alan Bleecker near the Cabrillo Bathhouse in the 1100 block of East Cabrillo Boulevard.
Byrne said Bleecker had been following the tip of someone in the local homeless community, who suspected a couple of area homeless people stole it because they’re not fond of how much faster the patrols travel around the shelter at 816 Cacique St.
“It’s awful slow,” Byrne said. “We have a couple theories. (Another) one is maybe some kids took it and had a little joy ride.
"I think everybody has learned a lesson here. Lock it down. We’re going to have to find some way to secure that puppy."
The cart doesn't require a key to start the low-humming engine, but maybe it should, Byrne said.
Besides a dead battery, she said the golf cart was thankfully found in otherwise great shape.
Authorities offered no other details, saying the investigation was ongoing.