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Bill Macfadyen: Los Arroyos Smash-and-Grab Burglary Just the Latest in Break-In News

NoozWeek’s Top 5 comes to blows outside a supermarket, snuggles up with cats, checks in on a laughable location for a hotel, and has ICE take 10 people off our hands

A burglary at Los Arroyos in Montecito is only the latest in local break-in news. Click to view larger
A burglary at Los Arroyos in Montecito is only the latest in local break-in news. (John Palminteri / KEYT News photo)

The first voting round of our Noozhawk Asks “public-powered journalism” project is open for your participation through June 7.

Out of scores of really good questions submitted by Noozhawk readers, our team selected four of them — from Irv Beiman, Suzanne Rogers, Kirk Taylor and Dan Wagner — for further consideration.

Once you’ve determined the winning question, by a simple majority vote, we’ll assign one of our reporters to investigate. Click here to cast your ballot.

Please be sure to suggest new questions while you’re at it; this is an ongoing project.

Speaking of ongoing projects, meanwhile, Noozhawk topped 1 million pageviews — or stories read — in May, our fifth straight month of a million-plus. Flip that off, Mr. Met!

Fueling the milestone were the 107,548 readers our Google Analytics says we had last week. This column, which I post each Friday, is a review of the Top Five stories read during that period.

It’s also an opinion column — containing my opinions — and it occasionally may offend you. If so, scroll down and let J.P. Sears help you make the most of it.

1. Los Arroyos Restaurant in Montecito Latest Victim of Commercial Burglary Spree

A series of smash-and-grab burglaries has bedeviled authorities while leaving South Coast merchants with thousands of dollars in losses and quite a mess inside their stores.

The latest business to be victimized was Los Arroyos Restaurant, at 1280 Coast Village Road in Montecito, which was hit in the middle of the night May 26.

Santa Barbara police Sgt. Joshua Morton said officers were dispatched about 5:30 a.m. and found the restaurant’s glass front door smashed in.

“The suspects located the restaurant’s safe, pried it loose from its mounting points, and carried (it) out,” he told our Tom Bolton.

An estimated $6,000 in cash was inside the safe, Morton said, and surveillance video showed one of the four masked suspects grabbing a couple of bottles of tequila on the way out the door.

Hours earlier, a similar break-in was reported at the Sprint store, at 1011 State St. in downtown Santa Barbara. Morton said passersby called 9-1-1 around 11:20 p.m. May 25 to report the burglary in progress.

“Witnesses were walking on State Street when they heard an audible alarm sounding from the business,” he said. “Upon reaching the front of the business, they observed glass on the ground and the front door broken out.

“To their surprise, a male subject was still inside the store placing items into a bag.”

When the suspect realized he was being watched, he ran out of the store and disappeared into the night, Morton said.

Video images show the man using a type of slingshot to break out the glass. Once inside, he cut the security cables on several of the display cell phones and other merchandise. Losses were estimated at $7,500.

The suspect — who was wearing a hooded dark blue Nike sweatshirt, baseball cap, gloves and a mask — was described as possibly a white or light-skinned Hispanic male. Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. John Ingram at 805.897.2330.

Morton said at least five other businesses — including Harry’s Plaza Café and Renaud’s Patisserie & Bistro in Loreto Plaza and Blenders in the Grass on the Mesa — have been burglarized in similar fashion just in the last week.

Earlier in the month, other break-ins were reported on Coast Village Road and in Carpinteria.

(Noozhawk video)

2. Man Arrested After Altercation With Sheriff’s Deputy Outside Supermarket Near Goleta

A late-night trip to the supermarket ended badly for a local man who racked up almost too many charges for an express lane trip to Santa Barbara County Jail.

Cleanup in the parking lot. Click to view larger
Cleanup in the parking lot. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

According to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover, deputies were dispatched around 11:30 p.m. May 27 to a disturbance call at the Ralphs market, at 5170 Hollister Ave. in the Magnolia Shopping Center.

She said a man, possibly under the influence, was reported to be knocking over displays inside the grocery store.

When deputies arrived, Hoover said, they found the suspect — later identified as 34-year-old Joseph Bianco — in a car parked out front, apparently arguing with a female passenger. The passenger lit out when deputies knocked on the window.

“Despite repeated requests by deputies asking him to open the door, the subject ignored commands,” Hoover said.

“Deputies eventually physically removed him from the vehicle via an unlocked door, during which time Bianco assaulted a deputy by punching him several times.”

Hoover said Bianco was arrested on charges of felony obstruction of an officer; use of threats, force or violence; battery committed against a peace officer with injury; resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer; and possession of methamphetamine.

Bail was set at $50,000.

Bianco and a deputy were injured in the altercation. Bianco was taken to the hospital for treatment, but the deputy, whose identity was not disclosed, went back to work.

Cat Café owner Catalina Esteves with the company she keeps — and will gladly share with you. (Julia Lee / Noozhawk photo)
Cat Café owner Catalina Esteves with the company she keeps — and will gladly share with you. (Julia Lee / Noozhawk photo)

3. Santa Barbara’s First Cat Café a Purr-fect Spot for Pet Project

If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s the enduring popularity of videos featuring cute cats doing cute cat things. Seeking to make the experience more hands-on, Cat Therapy has opened in downtown Santa Barbara.

According to owner Catalina — yes, Catalina — Esteves, the new cat café will allow patrons to hang out with the furry felines at the play room-like space at 1213 State St., Suite L.

In addition to the stress-releasing qualities of a purring cat enjoying a back or belly rub, customers can order food and drinks for delivery from nearby Brasil Arts Café at 1230 State St.

Cats being cats, there’s also something in it for them. Cat Therapy is partnering with the Animal Shelter Assistance Program, or ASAP; ResQCats shelter; and the Ventura County Animal Services Shelter in an effort to raise adoption rates.

Cat fanciers are introduced to the kitties’ unique personalities in a more relaxed environment than at a shelter, with the opportunity to bond with them then and there, Esteves told our Julia Lee.

“I realized that my favorite thing in the world was to hang out with animals and to feel like I could make a difference,” she said.

The café is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except for Tuesdays, but reservations are required. The space — including the cats — also is available to be rented for parties and special events.

The Lower Milpas Street site of a proposed new hotel may not look like much now, but think of the easy on-and-off freeway access. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
The Lower Milpas Street site of a proposed new hotel may not look like much now, but think of the easy on-and-off freeway access. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

4. Santa Barbara Planning Commission OKs New Hotel Near East Beach

A proposed four-story hotel off Lower Milpas Street has garnered the narrowest of approvals from the Santa Barbara Planning Commission, a 3-2 vote with two commissioners absent.

Plans for the 45-foot-tall, 62,541-square-foot hotel across the street from the East Beach Batting Cages include 111 guest rooms and a ground-floor parking garage with 121 spaces and 39 bicycle parking spaces.

Also on tap is a roof-top terrace — offering endless views of a clogged Highway 101, a freeway entrance ramp and two exit ramps, railroad tracks, the east parking lot at The Fess Parker, and loiterers bumming handouts while waiting for the nearby homeless shelter to open for the night.

In fairness, guests will get a terrific panorama of the mountains and a distant glimpse of the ocean ... while being drowned out by the relentless noise from freeway traffic and the swirling — albeit tantalizingly delicious — smoke from The Habit’s grill.

I almost forgot: The property’s address, at least for now, is 926 Indio Muerto St. You know the story behind that street name, right?

The IWF SB Gateway LP project has a ways to go. My favorite next step is the requirement to obtain an “encroachment permit from Caltrans for public and pedestrian improvements within the Caltrans right-of-way.”

I don’t know about you, but if a hotel needs to get encroachment permits for a Caltrans right-of-way, well, that can’t be very hospitable an ambiance. I can only imagine the coming TripAdvisor reviews.

Welcome to Santa Barbara!

5. Immigration Enforcement Lands 10 Santa Barbara County Residents In Custody

Ten people were taken into custody in Santa Barbara County during a recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement roundup of alleged criminals, fugitives and individuals who re-entered the country illegally after having been deported previously.

Nine of the detainees were collected in Santa Maria, and one in Santa Barbara. The criminal histories of the 10 were not immediately available, authorities said.

According to ICE representatives, the five-day, six-county “expanded enforcement operation” resulted in 188 people taken into custody — 90 percent of them with prior criminal convictions on their often lengthy records.

Rape, manslaughter, burglary, domestic violence, battery, sex crimes, DUIs, drug-related offenses and obstructing justice were among the low lights.

See ya.

                                                                 •        •        •

Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Amber Alert Suspect Shot Dead After Being Cornered in Solvang.

                                                                 •        •        •

Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

I need to get Riley the Wonder Malamute enrolled in this racket: This Dog Sits on 7 Editorial Boards.

                                                                  •        •        •

Watch It

Talk about a message for the times. I am so offended!

(AwakenWithJP video)

                                                                  •        •        •

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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