Burglary string targets businesses struggling from the Thomas Fire

Burglary string targets businesses...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Popular local hangouts in the Funk Zone and off State Street in Santa Barbara, already struggling and taking a hit from the Thomas Fire - are left reeling after a string of burglaries. Now, police say they may have the culprit behind bars.

On Tuesday, police arrested a man after an alarm call at Dargan's Irish Pub. 43-year-old Christoper Schotz was already on probation for a prior burglary and was in possession of large amounts of cash, gloves and meth.

He matched the description of a suspect depicted in security footage from a different burglary earlier that morning, and that business and police don't think this was a one-time thing.

Santa Barbara police arrested Schotz in connection to the burglaries at Oreana winery and a nearby Irish pub. Officers were then able to piece together a string of related burglaries in the area, starting in the Funk Zone.

"We had the sense that we wanted to stay here at the business and just kind of guard it," said Miles.

Already down and out, the Thomas Fire forced Oreana Winery to cancel approximately 20 holiday events. Now, sales are down by 50 percent.

"It's about the worst thing you could have happen," said Miles.

To add insult to injury, Oreana's Winemaker says they're out at least a $1,000 dollars after two separate break-ins starting on December 16th.

"We were hit that night where they got the cash drawer, broke through the door, since then we've repaired the door and then on the second we were broken in again probably by the same guy," said Miles.

Additional felony charges for Schotz are pending, meanwhile, business owners like Miles are rattled and like he says, everyone is hurting.

"No one has really gotten it together after the fire, everyone's had someone who lost their home or their family was impacted or evacuations," said Miles.

Two empty cash register drawers are still missing from Test Pilot and Dargan's. If anyone locates these empty drawers you're urged to contact Detective Thompson at 805-897-2325.

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