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Local News

Dozen Santa Barbara Businesses Recovering from Overnight Burglary Spree

Two teenagers arrested, third sought in at least 11 break-ins; damage could reach $100,000, according to police

The Santa Barbara Public Market was closed Saturday morning after burglars broke in and cause major damage. It reopened later in the day. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

A “Temporarily Closed” sign surprised many Saturday morning shoppers passing by the Santa Barbara Public Market, where a shattered window was boarded up along Victoria Street following an overnight break-in.

The visuals served as unwelcome reminders of a string of break-ins overnight in and around downtown Santa Barbara. The crime spree involved at least 11 businesses and resulted in a substantial amount of damage, according to Santa Barbara police.

“What a shame,” a passerby said after learning the market would remain closed until 1 p.m. Saturday so crews could clean up broken jars, glass shards and beaten-up cash registers.

Two of the market’s 15 purveyors — Belcampo Meat Co. and Santa Monica Seafood — weren’t set to open until Sunday morning due to damaged registers, and nearly all of the free-standing merchants were affected in some way, said Marge Cafarelli, president of Urban Developments, the real estate investment company that owns the Alma del Pueblo project and accompanying public market.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir, but we didn’t plan on getting broken into,” a Flagstone Pantry employee said as she hurried to help others inside.

In addition to the theft of merchandise and cash, the perpetrators may have caused as much as $100,000 damage to the businesses, police Sgt. Bryan Jensen told Noozhawk.

“The first call was at 2:45 in the morning, and then we basically were chasing these crooks around the city," he said.

Two teenagers authorities believe to be responsible — ages 17 and 16 — were taken into custody at about 4 a.m. near the MTD station on Chapala Street, Jensen said.

A third suspect was being sought Saturday afternoon, he added.

Instant Klasick at 811 State St. was among nearly a dozen businesses victimized during a burglary spree early Saturday. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

Also victimized were La Bella Rosa Bakery, 1411 San Andres St.; Mobil Gas, 402 W. Mission St.; Paradise Tobacco, 1926 De la Vina St.; Fuzion Gallery & Boutique, 1115 State St.; The Game Stop, 803 Chapala St.; Super Cucas Restaurant, 626 W. Micheltorena St.; Dahlia’s Beauty Salon, 1021 State St.; Instant Klasick, 811 State St.; and South Coast Deli, 10 E. Carrillo St., Jensen said.

There was an attempted break-in at the Saks Fifth Avenue department store at 1001 State St., police say.

Initial indications were that the break-ins began on the Westside, possibly at the bakery, then moved in the direction of downtown.

Officers recovered a large amount of property and cash, Jensen said, adding that the suspects appeared to be moving around on foot.

He noted that the damage caused during the burglaries included broken windows, and also involved cash registers, which can cost $500 or more to repair or replace.

The two suspects, whose names were not released because they are minors, were booked into Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall.

Cafarelli, who was in New York when she learned of the break-ins, said police told her 14 to 20 businesses were affected.

The Public Market was toward the end of the burglary spree, Cafarelli said, adding that two Mission Security & Patrol officers who regularly circle the property saw the suspects flee the market and called police.

“If it wasn’t for them ... I think possibly more damage could’ve been done,” she said. “We’re very grateful for that. You can’t prepare against crazy people randomly breaking into Santa Barbara businesses.

“That’s pretty hard to defend against. It’s very unfortunate, but my team at the Santa Barbara Public Market, all of our tenants, really rallied around to get this thing up and running. We’re lucky.”

The suspects threw a big rock to break the market window, and damaged all but one cash register while attempting to get the money inside, she said.

Wine + Beer was enclosed and locked behind a thick, glass door, and the suspects unsuccessfully tried to open it by throwing Santa Monica Seafood’s cash register at the door.

“They couldn’t break it because it’s a really thick piece of glass,” Cafarelli said. “They just made a mess. This whole thing is just so sad, that these kids are that crazy to go all over Santa Barbara doing that.”

Cafarelli said she didn’t have an estimate on damages yet, but noted that security cameras throughout the market building could help in the ongoing investigation.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). This story includes reporting by Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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