Law enforcement officials honored local vigilantes, who have helped take a bite out of crime in the last year.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Council held the 18th Annual Concerned Citizen Award ceremony Wednesday to honor citizens in the community who performed acts of bravery and kindness to assist the Sheriff’s Dept. This year, 18 people were recognized at the luncheon ceremony, held at Timber’s Restaurant in Goleta.

Two types of awards were presented – the Community Spirit Award, given to a person who voluntarily provided their time or resources toward assisting law enforcement, and the Concerned Citizen Award, given to a person involved in reducing crime in the community. The Concerned Citizen Award began as a way to communicate the importance of civilian involvement in law enforcement, Public Information Officer Lt. Mike Burridge said.

“This is the 18th year of the Concerned Citizen Award and the second year of the Community Spirit Award. We made the Community Spirit Award because we wanted a way of recognizing people who donated time, resources or equipment to help us do our jobs better,” he said.

Lynda Pepin, manager at the Frogmore House of Antiques in Solvang, received a Concerned Citizen Award for assisting law enforcement in apprehending a shoplifter. Pepin said she followed the thief to another antique shop after he took a vase from her store.

“He wasn’t getting away. There was no way he was getting out of there. Once I found him I wasn’t going to let him go,” she said. “It’s sad that people don’t get involved. You live in this community, it’s sad to ignore things when they happen. I’ve had a long line of getting in the middle of things; this is the first time I’m getting recognized. I don’t get mad, I get even. I don’t back down.”

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas said the awards are an important way to recognize citizens who spend their own time to help law enforcement.

“We ask our [officers] to keep their eyes open for people that do something above and beyond. It’s our way of saying thanks to people,” he said.