Santa Barbara – As if the economics of a Santa Barbara area fishing career weren’t challenging enough, wherein one’s income is dependent up the catch-as-catch-can whims of those inscrutable “fishing gods” well known to any piscatory sportsman, the theft of a professional fisherman’s catch qualifies the miscreants for high standing in The Hall of Shame. And the fact that the alleged thieves are themselves professional fishermen might well put them at personal risk when strolling the local waterfront.
The arrest of John Wilson, 53, and Kai Griffin, 23, on July 13th was the result of an ongoing two-month-long investigation conducted by local Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens who had periodically observed the two in their activities in and around the Santa Barbara Harbor.
According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Lt. Wes Boyle, his agency’s personnel conducted surveillance of Wilson and Griffin as they stole native rock crabs from commercial fishing receivers acting as middlemen between fishermen and retailers, and conducted an ongoing business in sea urchins, whelks, and clawed rock crabs “that were illegally landed.” Apparently aware that the best market for stolen sea life products would not be on the local docks where the coterie of local fishermen were well aware that their catches were being pilfered during pre-dawn hours, the two suspects “sold the stolen catch at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market,” Boyle reported. Wilson happens to be the proprietor of Sea Fever Seafood, a popular venue at the busy weekend marketplace.
Boyle indicated in his report to the media that the arrests of Wilson and Griffin came about “thanks to some good tips from the fishing community and good, solid police work.”
Wilson and Griffin were arrested and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where they were booked on felony charges of conspiracy and grand theft. As uncomfortable and inconvenient as jail certainly is, both men are presumably safer there than they might be showing their faces on the commercial fishing docks.
Photos: Courtesy California Department of Fish and Game
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