On Sept.18 at approximately 8:50 p.m., Santa Monica police officers responded to a call of a purse theft that had just occurred at the Lobster restaurant located in the 1600 block of Ocean Avenue. Upon arrival, officers spoke with the victim, who stated that she had placed her purse on the back of her chair, and as she got ready to leave the restaurant she noticed her purse was missing.
As officers reviewed the CCTV surveillance footage, they noticed a second victim. While officers were responding to this call, dispatch advised officers in the field that the victim’s phone was being tracked in the area of 4th Street and Arizona Avenue.
Officer’s working the 3rd Street detail were conducting periodic checks at the Apple store when they heard the call come in of a purse stolen at the restaurant, and they recalled that once these thefts occur, suspects oftenuse the stolen credit cards atstores in the area.
An officer recognized two subjects, later identified as Manuel Bastias-Gutierrez, 28, of Van Nuys, and Xiomara Salas, 31, of Van Nuys, as subjects from crime bulletins wanted for previous purse thefts.
Upon seeing officers, Bastias-Gutierrez began to show signs of being nervous as he and Salas proceeded to exit the store. Officers detained the subjects and asked Bastias-Gutierrez if he had anything illegal on his person, and he said no. Officers found stolen credit cards on his person.
The suspects had also tried hiding other stolen cards in air vents at the store while they were being detained. An employee at the Apple store told officers that earlier in the day, both subjects had attempted to purchase a laptop but that the card they tried using was declined.
Bastias-Gutierrez and Salas were arrested on charges of burglary, grand theft, credit card fraud and conspiracy to commit a crime. Salas had an added charge of possession of false government identification. Bail was set at $3 million.