SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — When it comes to evading arrest, 24-year-old burglary and robbery suspect Mario Perez Saldivar, a resident of Lompoc, is nothing if not resourceful and tenacious.
His saga began in the evening of May 14th, when he allegedly stole a pickup truck from a residential Lompoc neighborhood.
Perhaps not too wisely, Saldivar was driving the truck around the city streets just eight hours later, at 4:00 a.m. on May 15th, at which time he was spotted by a Lompoc Police Department patrol officer. When the cop made best efforts to pull the truck over, Saldivar accelerated and the chase was on.
At one point during his attempt to flee, according to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, Saldivar drove the truck through a lettuce field, “causing several thousand dollars in damage.”
At that point, Saldivar alighted from the truck and took off on foot while the officer in pursuit summoned additional resources that eventually included “the California Highway Patrol, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.” In spite of all that manpower, Saldivar made good his escape…for a while.
Twelve hours later, at approximately 4:00 p.m, unidentified local area residents returned home to find Saldivar—who had broken in—inside their house, now with “a shaved head and wearing a black wetsuit.”
Upon his discovery by the hapless homeowners, Saldivar took off once again, running off into “a neighboring riverbed area.” What followed was a concentrated law enforcement search effort involving K-9 teams, helicopter units, SBSD Sheriff units, members of the Lompoc Police Department, a team from nearby Lompoc Federal Prison, and a search team from nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base. In spite of all those resources, Saldivar could not be tracked and run to ground.
Persistent police work soon determined that Saldivar was residing in a home on North “L” Street in the City of Lompoc, whereupon deputies promptly reported to the residence and took Saldivar into custody without further incident. He was then transported to Santa Barbara County Jail and booked on charges of second degree robbery and burglary, with his bail set at $50,000.