Transient con man robbing women he picks up
March 17, 2016
A 44-year-old man who lives out of his car and goes by the nickname “Pineapple” is picking up women at Santa Barbara County bars, then spending nights at their homes and pilfering their jewelry and other property, according to the county sheriff’s office. Sometimes the man even takes new women he meets to the homes of previous victims, claiming the houses are his own.
Stephen Keawe Kekuewa, 44, is very suave and a skilled storyteller, according to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office press release. When Kekuewa meets women at bars, he tells them he is a former Navy SEAL and the owner of a company that does lighting and “grip work” in the movie industry. He also claims to be the owner of high-end properties and ranches around the county, including a property next to the Reagan Ranch.
Kekuewa has used various scams to trick women into inviting him into their home and then stealing from them. In some cases, he has given women stolen jewelry in order to build confidence.
The sheriff’s office is aware of at least five cases, and investigators believe there are more victims both in and out of Santa Barbara County.
Sheriff’s officials say Kekuewa is currently a person of interest. Investigators know where he is, but they are still putting together their case and are not ready to arrest him.
Once Kekuewa earns their trust and the women invite him into their residences, he makes excuses to spend the night and to come wash his clothes. He also offers to do handyman work around the property.
Investigators also believe Kekuewa has temporarily removed locks from doors in order to have locksmiths make keys for him to use later. He commonly enters the homes when the women are gone in order to sleep on the floor, wash his clothes, steal more items and bring over other women.
On March 10, sheriff’s deputies cited Kekuewa for being an unlicensed driver, displaying false registration tabs and for having an expired vehicle registration for more than one year. Kekuewa’s black 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe was impounded.
The same day, Kekuewa allegedly called a woman from Fresno he recently met and told her his house burned down with his vehicle inside. He convinced her to have relatives drive to Santa Maria to pick him up and take him to Fresno.
Investigators had previously identified the Fresno woman as a possible victim. Deputies contacted her and warned her about Kekuewa’s method of operation. She voiced immediate concern for her safety, according to the sheriff’s office.
The Fresno Police Department then dispatched officers to the woman’s home. The officers stood by while Kekuewa collected his belongings from the home and left.
Sheriff’s officials say they want to locate other victims and prevent anyone else from become a victim. Investigators request that anyone who has information about the case or who has received any gifts from Kekuewa or who may be a victim, call the sheriff’s anonymous tip line at (805) 681-4171.