Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 9:01 am | Mostly Cloudy 59º


Local News

Alleged Burglar Accidentally Sparks Small Fire at Charlie’s in Los Alamos

Darren Richter, 33, of Santa Maria is facing charges of vehicle theft, burglary and vandalism

A Santa Maria man is facing  vehicle theft, burglary and vandalism charges after allegedly breaking into Charlie’s Restaurant in Los Alamos and starting a small fire. Click to view larger
A Santa Maria man is facing vehicle theft, burglary and vandalism charges after allegedly breaking into Charlie’s Restaurant in Los Alamos and starting a small fire. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

One man has been arrested after allegedly breaking into Charlie’s Restaurant in Los Alamos where he accidentally sparked a fire, disabled the alarm, and stole a motorcycle from a neighboring property, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

At 11:30 p.m. Sunday, personnel from the Sheriff’s Department and the county Fire Department responded to the popular eatery on Bell Street.

They discovered that a suspect broke two windows and kicked in a door at Charlie's, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. 

“During the course of his time inside of the establishment, he accidentally set fire to the stove top in the kitchen, as well as ripping out the battery to the alarm system,” Hoover said.

The small fire reportedly sparked when the suspect knocked a plastic container onto the stove’s pilot light, fire Capt. Dave Zaniboni said.

Firefighters were able to put out the fire quickly.

The suspect exited the establishment and allegedly went to a neighboring property in the 100 block of Den Street where he stole a motorcycle from a trailer, Hoover said.

Deputies located the motorcycle’s owner and returned the vehicle early Monday morning. 

The suspect, Darren Richter, 33, of Santa Maria, was spotted while walking on Highway 1 toward Graciosa Road, and was arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft, burglary and vandalism, Hoover said.

Charlie’s remained closed Tuesday, apparently pre-planned for the holidays after closing early Dec. 23, according to a sign at the front of the restaurant. It was set to reopen Wednesday.

The original Charlie's opened in 1978 in Los Alamos, the business website says.

Five years ago, a sister restaurant, Charlie's Place, opened in San Luis Obispo, also offering American and Mexican food.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >