Santa Barbara County – The sleepy town of Santa Ynez—known for its wineries and horse properties—is something of a throwback, with a “downtown” resembling a Hollywood studio “western street” backlot, with nary a traffic light in sight.
Just a stone’s throw across the nearby state highway, however, the Chumash Indian Reservation bustles with hordes of visitors, some of whom have come to overnight at the high rise hotel looming above the Chumash Casino, others who make a daily visit to try their luck at Las Vegas-style gaming tables. Such activity frequently attracts desperate individuals and less-than-savory folks with criminal intent.
Steven Woods, a 43-year-old visitor from Bakersfield, appears to have been one of those people looking for more than some lighthearted gambling entertainment, as evidenced by what Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer described to the media as “a dramatic search” by SBSD deputies and a County Air Support helicopter.
It all began at approximately 9:00 a.m. on January 13th with the report of a vehicle theft from the Chumash Casino parking structure, pursuant to “contact with a female suspect and male suspect” who were acting suspiciously in a vehicle by casino security staff. As law enforcement was being summoned, however, both suspects “fled on foot.”
Responding SBSD deputies quickly determined that the vehicle in question had been stolen, giving rise to an immediate search for the suspects.
With the help of a helicopter overhead, Woods was soon “taken into custody at gunpoint” and thereafter transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where he was booked for possession of stolen property. According to Hoover, the female suspect’s involvement with the auto theft remains under investigation.