FORT BRAGG – MENDOCINO COUNTY – It was the afternoon of Halloween, at about 3:20 pm, when a Game Warden with the California Fish and Wildlife Department was traveling north of Fort Bragg along Highway 1. The Warden encountered a strange sight, but one that had nothing to do with the ghosts and goblins that would soon be running about the streets of town seeking candy from Fort Bragg residents. Instead the Warden witnessed a man parked along the wooded stretch of highway carrying a large black bag into the trees.
The Warden stopped the man, a large 6’5″, 220 pound man with sandy brown hair, who was identified as Richard Allen Lambeth, who lived very close by, in a home just off the highway. The location is just north of McKerricher State Park on the coast of Fort Bragg. Lambeth was apparently bringing construction tools into the woods and hiding them there. There were a number of tools already there, and more in Lambeth’s vehicle. Lambeth also happened to be carrying 2.7 grams of methamphetamine and a meth pipe.
The Warden detained Lambeth at the location, and contacted the Mendocino Sheriff’s Department, according to a Sheriff’s Department press release. Deputies were no doubt happy to hear of the Warden’s discovery, as they were very familiar with Lambeth and the tools he was hiding.
Just a few days prior, on Monday, October 27, the Sheriff’s Department had sent deputies to a home on Ocean Meadows Circle, a short distance from where Lambeth had been found. A construction contractor had parked a trailer at a home there while working on a remodeling project. The victim reported approximately $6,000.00 worth of tools were missing from the trailer. The deputies began an investigation into the theft, and by Friday, Halloween day, they had reason to suspect Lambeth. They contacted him that day at 12:47 in the afternoon, but did not have cause to arrest him at the time. The contact, however, must have spurred Lambeth to fear they would be back with a search warrant, prompting him to try to hide the loot.
It was perhaps no surprise that Lambeth had become a suspect. Records show at least four previous arrests in the Fort Bragg area since 2011. In April of that year he was witnessed driving his truck at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. He eluded officers’ pursuit initially, but when they caught up with him and stopped the pickup, he was arrested for reckless driving. He was also charged with failure to obey an officer’s orders, being under the influence of a controlled substance, and even possession of tear gas.
Later that year he was caught in a case of stolen copper wire. Witnesses saw him burning insulation off of a large coil of wire. Investigators found that he had taken approximately 1000 pounds of wire from Baxman Gravel Company, and he was charged with second degree burglary, grand theft, and possession of stolen property. And while he was being arrested for that, he also tried to conceal meth from the deputies, throwing a box containing several grams into bushes. They also found packaging material on site, indicating he was also selling the drugs. He was charged with possession and possession for sale of methamphetamine.
In 2012 he was arrested once again in August for possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, and charged with a probation violation. He was hit with a probation violation again in December of 2012.
When deputies responded to the site where Lambeth was caught hiding the stolen tools, they brought the victim of the theft there to identify the missing property. As a result he was charged with possession of stolen property and possession of meth, and booked into the Mendocino County jail, with bail set at $15,000.