Photo: Erika Krystal Garcia
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — The fact that cops simply can’t be everywhere at all times has led to the clichéd criticism “there’s never a cop around when you need one,” and to the widespread awareness by those so inclined that the odds of getting away with a property crime are pretty good.
But that same awareness on the part of citizens—that police are most effective in keeping the peace and preventing crime when the community is willing to get involved—cuts the other way: anyone witnessing a crime may have the power to prevent it. That was the case in the dawning hours of February 11th in Goleta when an alert citizen called 911 Emergency to report a man and woman breaking into the neighborhood’s parked vehicles.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, the reporting party said the suspects were “pulling on the door handles of cars” and were driving a white Honda sedan with paper license plates. That description came in handy for responding deputies who, upon rolling up to the scene, spotted the vehicle and conducted an enforcement stop.
The driver of the Honda, 29-year-old Lompoc resident Aldo Almanza, and his passenger, 29-year-old Erika Krystal Garcia, were contacted and quickly informed that they were in fact occupying a vehicle reported stolen from Santa Maria. Deputies took Garcia and Almanza into custody and then conducted a search of the car that revealed “stolen property, burglary tools, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia” as well as “a large quantity of stolen mail and documents.”
Garcia and Almanza were transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where she was charged with vehicle theft, burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of methamphetamine, possession of narcotic paraphernalia, and a no-bail Probation Department detainer. For his part, Almanza was similarly charged, in addition to charges relating to a felony no bail warrant on a prior auto theft.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking