6 arrested in equipment theft investigation
April 24, 2016
Following a five-month joint investigation, sheriff deputies from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties arrested six people suspected of participating in an agriculture and construction equipment theft ring.
Deputies investigated more than twenty different cases involving several farming and ranching businesses throughout the Santa Maria Valley and Nipomo area between May 2015 and Dec. 2015. Investigators believe the equipment and chemicals were stolen, stored, and then sold either on the street or to farmers who did not realize they were purchasing stolen items.
The stolen property ranged from water pumps, generators, expensive agricultural chemicals, hand tools, strawberry starter plants, weed eaters, backpack sprayers, broccoli bunching machines, drip tape, copper wire, and other related farming equipment. The total loss of property stolen is approximately $38,000, with $20,000 in chemicals and equipment recovered.
Deputies discovered the stolen equipment in a Santa Maria storage locker in December. Officers first contacted Maria De Olmas, 50, of Santa Maria, who is facing one count of possession of stolen property and conspiracy to commit a crime.
On Friday, deputies arrested Alberto Alvarez Andrade, 33, a former resident of Cambria; Hector Farfan Ramirez, 36, of Santa Maria; Anthony Avelino Santella, 30, of Santa Maria; Rigoberto Cadena Avila, 22, of Santa Maria; Marcos Cerda Adame, 22, of Santa Maria and booked them into the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges related to burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of stolen property.