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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 2:56 pm | Light Rain 55º


Deputies Arrest 2 Goleta Men Connected to Rash of Storage Locker Burglaries

Deputies found assault rifles, methamphetamine, burglary tools, a grenade launcher and stolen musical equipment in James Birchim’s possession. Stolen property was also located in MIchael Muneio’s truck.
Deputies found assault rifles, methamphetamine, burglary tools, a grenade launcher and stolen musical equipment in James Birchim’s possession. Stolen property was also located in MIchael Muneio’s truck. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office is requesting residents who have storage lockers at San Marcos Self Storage located at 4093 State St. in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County and OK Storage located at 7330 Hollister Ave. in the City of Goleta to check their inventory. 

This past week, Sheriff’s deputies arrested James Birchim and Michael Muneio, both 35-year-old Goleta residents, following an investigation into a recent rash of storage locker burglaries. Both men were found in possession of stolen property from units at those storage facilities. 

The suspects were identified and located thanks to the assistance of one of the victims who was able to provide information that was critical to help solve the crimes.

On Sept. 8, a 27-year-old Goleta resident, called the Sheriff’s Office to report that his storage locker at OK Storage had been burglarized. The victim reviewed surveillance video from the night before which showed a white Chevrolet Silverado extended cab pick-up truck enter the parking lot and park near his storage locker.

The vehicle did not have property in the bed of the truck when it arrived but was full of property when it left approximately 10 minutes later. The citizen put the video on his Facebook page requesting help identifying the owner of the truck. 

He was contacted by a member of the public who recognized the truck and a residence in Goleta where it may be located. 

Through the course of the investigation deputies were able to determine the owner of the suspect vehicle was Muneio and the residence where the vehicle was spotted belonged to Birchim. 

James Birchim
James Birchim (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Deputies also discovered Birchim rented storage lockers at OK Storage and at San Marcos Self Storage, both which have had a large number of burglaries recently reported.

Sheriff’s deputies obtained and served search warrants at Birchim’s home in the 1300 block of Farren Road, Muneio’s home in the 200 block of Fir Tree Place and Birchim’s storage lockers.

Birchim was found in possession of several assault rifles, a handgun, high-capacity magazines, methamphetamine, burglary tools, lock picks, a grenade launcher, nunchakus, cane swords, brass knuckles and stolen musical equipment including high-end expensive guitars. Stolen property was also located in Muneio’s truck.

Michael Muneio
Michael Muneio (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Birchim was booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on $500,000 dollars bail on related charges. Muneio was booked on charges of receiving stolen property and possession of burglary tools. His bail is set at $20,000.

The Sheriff’s Office wants to take this opportunity to encourage residents to check their storage lockers and do an inventory to ensure no items have been stolen. Also, storage locker owners are advised to invest in a lock that is difficult to pick or cut with bolt cutters. 

Finally, even though storage lockers are protected by a lock, this case is a reminder that if you have items that are valuable they should be placed in a secure location.

— Kelly Hoover is a spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

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