Monday, October 24 , 2016, 5:30 am | Partly Cloudy 60º

  • Follow Noozhawk on LinkedIn
  • Follow Noozhawk on Pinterest
  • Follow Noozhawk on YouTube

Local News

Suspect Arrested in Theft of Antiques Worth Up to $2 Million from Downtown Business

Santa Barbara police say the 83-year-old owner of Collector's Corner is in declining health, and that the person who stole the items 'exploited' his absence

Police have arrested a Santa Barbara man suspected of stealing $2 million worth of antiques from an elderly business owner and are asking the public to help them recover stolen items still missing.

Pablo Sela
Pablo Sela

Pablo Sela, 49, of Santa Barbara, was arrested on charges of receiving stolen property, elder abuse, and drug offenses related to an ongoing burglary investigation being conducted by the Santa Barbara Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit, according to police Sgt. Riley Harwood.

Police have been working on the case since Feb. 24, and the burglary stems from a storefront known as Collector's Corner, an antique store at 701 Anacapa St.

The owner of the store, an 83-year-old in declining health, had been unable to maintain a regular presence in the store.

"Investigation indicates that over the course of three to four months, a suspect or suspects exploited the owner’s absence and stole approximately $1.5 million to $2 million worth of antiques from a locked storage room at that location," Harwood said.

The stolen property consisted of a wide variety of antique items with significant quantities of Native American baskets and artifacts, old-fashioned guns and ivory carvings, Harwood said.

On Wednesday, a search warrant was obtained for Sela's residence in the 800 block of West Islay Street and for his business, Iron Cross Tattoo, at 35 E. Ortega St. Harwood said Collector’s Corner and Iron Cross Tattoo are located in the same building.

Sela was contacted at his home at 1 p.m. Wednesday, and more than 150 items stolen from Collector’s Corner were recovered from his home and office, according to Harwood.

He also said police found small quantities of methamphetamine, Suboxone, Valium and drug paraphernalia inside Iron Cross Tattoo, and Sela was arrested.

Later Wednesday, police received information that additional stolen property was located at a residence in Santa Barbara’s Mesa area, where Harwood said Sela had asked a resident there to store the property without knowledge that it was stolen.

A search warrant was executed at that home, where detectives recovered more than 50 additional stolen items.

Sela was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $250,000. He is facing charges of receiving stolen property, elder abuse, possession of methamphetamine, Suboxone, Valium and drug paraphernalia.

Harwood said a conservative estimate of the value of the recovered property is $250,000, and additional property is believed to be outstanding, including about 75 vintage firearms. 

Anyone with knowledge of Sela’s activities concerning the sale of antiques or anyone who is storing property on Sela’s behalf is asked to contact Detective John Ingram at 805.897.2331 or [email protected].

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

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.

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 >