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Stolen Laptop Leads to Grand-Theft Charge for Probationer

Ari Benjamin Morguelan
Ari Benjamin Morguelan

A 33-year-old probationer was arrested this week for allegedly stealing a computer from a student and attempting to sell it on online, according to the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Ari Benjamin Morguelan, a staff member in the Fielding Graduate Institute‘s marketing department, was taken into custody Tuesday after investigators discovered the stolen computer at his apartment in the 200 block of Old Mill Road, said Sgt. Riley Harwood.

The investigation began shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, when police were alerted by a 28-year-old Iowa woman that her laptop — valued at $1,200 — had been stolen while she was attending seminars through the institute at the Doubletree Resort at 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.

“Doubletree Resort security obtained security camera footage of the suspect in the incident entering the conference room where the theft took place and then exiting with the computer,” Harwood said. “A Fielding Graduate Institute executive … viewed the footage and identified the suspect as Morguelan.”

Morguelan, who allegedly tried to sell the computer for $900 on Craig’s List, was questioned, and acknowledged being on probation for a theft conviction in Los Angeles County, but denied any involvement in the theft, Harwood said.

He even challenged Officer Doug Klug to produce any evidence that implicated him in the crime, Harwood added.

Morguelan’s probation terms allowed investigators to search first his vehicle and then his residence. Evidence collected at both locations led to the return of the computer and Morguelan’s arrest.

He was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $20,000, Harwood said.

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