Santa Barbara police have arrested a man in connection with a September incident involving invasion of privacy with a concealed camera.
Sijifredo Sotelo, 37, of Santa Barbara, was arrested Thursday and booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail. Bail was set $2,500.
Sgt. Riley Harwood said that on Sept. 4, a 30-year-old Santa Barbara resident was eating lunch at a restaurant on the 1200 block of State Street when he saw a man taking photographs or video of a female pedestrian’s undergarments or private body parts with a small camera concealed in the palm of his hand.
According to Harwood, the witness said it was clear that the pedestrian was unaware she was being followed or being filmed.
Harwood said the witness used his own camera to take three photographs of the suspect, then flagged down a Santa Barbara traffic officer to report the incident.
During the investigation, officers recognized Sotelo from a similar case in 2009 in which he was arrested for taking up-skirt photographs of women on State Street, according to Harwood. Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Sotelo for invasion of privacy with a concealed camera and a search warrant for his residence on the 800 block of Veronica Springs Road.
On Thursday, detectives arrested Sotelo at his residence and searched his room, Harwood said. Among the evidence seized were three small cameras and an SD memory card.
Harwood said detectives reviewed the contents of the memory card and found 423 video files and one still image of the legs, undergarments and intimate body parts of female victims, taken as they walked in public places, apparently without consent. He said many of the files were created in succession, depicting the same victims being followed over several blocks.
Detectives are now working to identify victims. Anyone who believes they might be a victim in this case is asked to contact Detective Charlie Katsapis at 805.897.2344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.