5 suspected Santa Cruz Co. looters identified and arrested.
Not only do criminals loot during the fires BLM and Antifa anarchists start, they are now targeting evacuees fleeing California’s historic wildfires.
Thousands have been driven from their homes by the wildfire burning in the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco and authorities say criminals are taking advantage by burglarizing vacant homes.
Eight people have been arrested on suspicion of looting or planning to loot neighborhoods in Santa Cruz County, Sheriff Jim Hart said Sunday. More are expected as the public reports “a lot of looting going on,” he said.
At least 100 officers are patrolling evacuation zones and Hart said he’s ordered his deputies to pull over any non-police or non-fire department vehicles.
“I have no empathy, I have no patience for somebody who’s going to come into our community and steal from people who have been evacuated and victimized and traumatized,” Hart said during a news conference with county District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell.
In one case, a firefighter’s wallet was stolen.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart on Sunday told reporters that a California firefighter’s marked vehicle was burglarized.
During a separate press conference, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), Battalion Chief Mark Brunton called the incident “sickening” and said the firefighter’s wallet was stolen and his bank account was “drained” while he was at work directing firefighting crews in the area.
“That’s the extent these people have gone,” Brunton said. “Again, this is why we’ve asked for people to evacuate. The sheriff’s department has done a fantastic job in trying to wrangle this, but again, this is what we have as a result.”
Now, in addition to the blazes, evacuees are worried about looters.
Outside a Santa Cruz evacuation center, David Brewster, a substance abuse counselor, said he’s very worried about his Boulder Creek home being looted.
“It’s concerning, because we had to leave without getting any of our belongings in order,” Brewster said. “Literally, everything we own is there.”
He said he feels really sad that there are people “in a low enough place that they would prey on others in this way.”
Among the items stolen from houses were firearms and, in one case, an outdoor heating system, officials said.
Police have identified five suspected looters in Santa Cruz County.
The sheriff’s office identified the suspects as Jose Gandarilla, Susana Luna, Crystal Araujo, Sara Loretz and Crystle Parstch-Lucchesi. They’ve been arrested on numerous charges, including looting, grand theft, conspiracy to commit a crime and burglary.
“These five decided to victimize several of our community members who are already hurting.”
You loot, you go to jail.
These 5 experienced that today.
Jose Gandarilla, Susana Luna, Crystal Araujo, Sara Loretz and Crystle Parstch-Lucchesi were all arrested on numerous charges including Looting, Grand Theft, Conspiracy to commit crime and Burglary.#CZULightingComplex pic.twitter.com/SgOGinII8O
— Santa Cruz SO (@SantaCruzSO1) August 22, 2020
There is some good on the fires themselves. The weather is now working with the firefighter and not against them.
Increased humidity and low winds have helped firefighters, many of whom had been working 24-hour shifts, Cal Fire operations section Chief Mark Brunton said Tuesday.
“The weather’s really cooperating with us,” said Brunton, who is helping oversee the battle against the 78,800-acre CZU Lightning Complex Fire southwest of San Jose, in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.
“We are steadily getting a trickle of resources in, and putting them to work,” Brunton said.
Several wildfire evacuation orders and warnings were being lifted in Northern California Tuesday. Sonoma County is allowing many residents to return home, and some evacuations in Napa County were being reduced to warnings, Cal Fire said. All warnings for Santa Clara County were lifted.
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