Fugitive who removed GPS monitoring device arrested

Suspect recognized sitting at a restaurant bar

POSTED: 05:22 PM PST Feb 22, 2013    UPDATED: 10:10 AM PST Feb 27, 2013 
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -

A felon fugitive who escaped from his electronic monitoring device in August 2012 is in police custody.

Steven Kunes, 56, was arrested Sunday afternoon at a restaurant in the 700 block of Linden Avenue in Carpinteria after a patron recognized him from a booking photo on the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Facebook page. That person contacted police.

Deputies responded to the restaurant and took Kunes into custody. Steven Kunes removed his GPS monitoring bracelet last August in Santa Barbara, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Kunes mailed his device to a custody deputy at the Santa Barbara County jail and fled the area. Kunes is in the Santa Barbara County jail pending an arraignment on escape charges. No bail is set. 

Kunes is just one of thousands of California parolees who are removing or disarming their court-ordered GPS tracking devises. A recent investigation shows there's been a huge rise in the number of parolees tampering with their monitoring devises.

Several Senators including Democratic state senator Ted Lieu have proposed a bill that would make it a felony if parolees tampered with their GPS monitors.  
If the bill passes, it could mean that parolees could get up to 3-years in state prison or more with such a violation. 

NewsChannel 3 Reporter Shirin Rajaee reports.