Crime

Santa Barbara police arrest four suspects in connection to Sprint store robbery

Two suspects arrested after short police pursuit

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara police arrested four individuals in connection with an armed robbery at the Sprint store in Downtown Santa Barbara on Feb. 6.

Investigators say that at about 4 p.m., Tafilele Puaauli, 45, and Vaafato Matvia, 34, used a ruse to enter the store that was occupied by employees but closed for business.

"Once inside the business, they brandished a firearm and locked the two lone employees inside a bathroom," said a statement by the Santa Barbara Police Department. "The suspects retrieved a number of Apple products valued at approximately $130,000 and left out the back door to a City Parking lot where a car was waiting for them."

Authorities eventually located the suspect car stuck in traffic on U.S. Highway 101 southbound and after a brief chase, the suspects dumped the car in the City of Carpinteria and fled on foot.

Authorities say a police K-9 tracked Puaauli and Matvia to an area nearby. One of the suspects tried to evade the police dog and was bitten.

Officers located a gun in the suspects' vehicle.

Crystal Viramontes, 29, and 27-year-old Mianuel Bringas were later taken into custody with the assistance of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office. The Santa Barbara Police Department says Viramontes and Bringas are co-conspirators involved in the armed robbery.

All four suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for Robbery, Kidnapping and Conspiracy charges.


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