CARPINTERIA — An undercover sting operation resulted in the arrest of a suspected public masturbator last week in this small oceanside community.
The plainclothes detective work followed a half-dozen citizen reports over recent weeks detailing the activities of a man masturbating publicly in front of female pedestrians on the sidewalks of Carpinteria. Matching descriptions of the suspect and corroborated reports of his modus operandi inspired what sheriff’s spokesman Drew Sugars described as “a straightforward sting operation.”
At approximately 9:15 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, sheriff’s deputies from the Carpinteria substation conducted the operation that resulted in the unidentified suspect’s capture.
According to Sugars, undercover detectives were patrolling the public thoroughfares of Carpinteria last Monday night when a man with a bicycle matching the suspect description was spotted following an undercover female detective acting as operational decoy. The bike rider followed the female across a remote, lightly traveled pedestrian bridge spanning a small creek adjacent to Carpinteria’s downtown area. He was then observed dismounting the bicycle and walking past her. Shortly thereafter, he re-mounted the bike and rode away, only to return shortly with his hand in his pants actively masturbating.
At this time, “our detective identified herself as a deputy sheriff and ordered him to stop,” Sugars said.
The suspect attempted to ride away, but after a short foot pursuit was apprehended.
The suspect — whose identification has not yet been released due to the nature of the alleged offenses and the ongoing investigation into reports by additional victims — was arrested on charges of committing lewd acts in public and indecent exposure, and is being held in Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $50,000.