SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara Police Department released the following information:
Pablo Sela age 49, of Santa Barbara, was arrested for receiving stolen property, elder abuse, and drug offenses arising from an ongoing burglary investigation being conducted by the Santa Barbara Police Department's Property Crimes Unit.
The public is being asked to assist in the recovery of stolen property. Since February 24, 2014 detectives from the Santa Barbara Police Department have been investigating a burglary to Collector's Corner, an antique store located at 701 Anacapa Street.
Due to declining heath, in recent months the 83-year old owner of the store and victim in this case has been unable to maintain a regular presence at the business. Investigation indicates that over the course of 3 to 4 months a suspect or suspects exploited the owner's absence and stole approximately 1.5 to 2 million dollar's worth of antiques from a locked storage room at that location.
The stolen property consisted of a wide variety of antique items including significant quantities of Native American baskets and artifacts, old-fashioned guns, and ivory carvings. On March 26, 2014 SBPD Property Crimes Detective John Ingram developed information that Sela was in possession of property stolen from Collector's Corner.
Detective Ingram obtained a search warrant for Sela's residence on the 800 block of W. Islay Street and for his business, Iron Cross Tattoo, at 35 E. Ortega Street. Collector's Corner and Iron Cross Tattoo are both located in the same building.
At approximately 1:00 p.m. that afternoon officers and detectives contacted Sela at his home and executed the search warrants there and at his business.
Over 150 items stolen from Collector's Corner were recovered from both locations. Additionally, small quantities of methamphetamine, Suboxone, Valium, and drug paraphernalia were found inside Iron Cross Tattoo. Sela was subsequently arrested.
Later in the day information was developed indicating that additional stolen property from this case was located at a residence in Santa Barbara's Mesa area; Sela had asked the resident there to store it without knowledge that the property was stolen.
Detective Ingram obtained a search warrant for that location and at 5:45 p.m. detectives searched that premise and recovered over 50 additional stolen items.
Sela was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for receiving stolen property, elder abuse, and possession of methamphetamine, possession of Suboxone, possession of Valium, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Sela's bail amount was set at $250,000.00.
A conservative estimate of the value of the recovered property is $250,000.00. Additional property is believed to be outstanding, including approximately 75 vintage firearms.
Anyone with knowledge of Sela's activities concerning the storage or sale of antiques, or anyone who is possessing property on Sela's behalf is asked to contact SBPD Detective John Ingram at 805-897-2331.
Due to the ongoing nature of this case additional details are being withheld.Slideshow: Police Ask for Help to Identify Stolen Antiques