Santa Maria police had asked for the public’s help to catch a suspect in a March 7 purse-snatching at a car wash and a burglary at a convenience store a half-hour later, and help is what officers quickly received. The suspect was identified within hours of the public appeal.
According to police Lt. Kim Graham, a woman had left her vehicle momentarily unattended at a car wash in the 2100 block of South Bradley about 5:20 p.m. that Saturday, and returned to find that her purse had been stolen. Graham said a suspicious man in a dark-colored sedan had been seen near the victim’s car prior to the theft.
At 5:50 p.m., Graham said, the suspect entered the 7-Eleven at 121 W. Stowell Road at Broadway, about two miles away, and used the victim’s credit card to make a purchase.
The convenience store was equipped with surveillance video and Graham said the tapes showed the suspect driving up to the store in a newer, dark green, four-door Honda Accord.
“The suspect appeared to be a white or light-complected Hispanic male, approximately 5-foot-10, weighing approximately 160-170 pounds, possibly in his early 30s,” Graham said. “He wears glasses and had a goatee at the time of the theft, and was wearing an Oakland Raiders jacket.”
Police announced Sunday that they were seeking help from the public to identify the suspect. A few hours later, Graham reported that officers had identified the man as Kenneth Stice, 30, of Santa Maria.
“We received numerous anonymous calls throughout the day with information that led officers to identify Stice,” Graham said. “The Santa Maria Police Department would like to thank the public and local news media for their assistance.”
As it turns out, Graham said, Stice is already in the Santa Barbara County Jail on unrelated charges. The case is under investigation but charges have not yet been filed, Graham said.