Santa Barbara County Sheriffs Dept. detectives arrested a Santa Barbara resident last week who they believe is involved in a number of cross-country wallet theft and fraud crimes.
Phillip Watts was booked into the Santa Barbara County jail Nov. 8 for possession of stolen property, false identification and credit card fraud, after police found approximately 100 forms of identification and credit cards from around the country at his address.
Detectives were able to locate Watts after an Oct. 19 incident at the Costco in Goleta where two suspects pick-pocketed a 72-year-old man’s wallet containing $250 in cash. A witness was able to identify the license plate of a vehicle that picked up the two suspects. Sheriff’s detectives identified Watts, who was on active parole, as the vehicle’s registered owner, and performed a parole search on his residence.
The investigation revealed that some of the property had been stolen during various pickpocket-type thefts, including the Oct. 19 Costco incident. Another theft occurred at a Chicago Bulls basketball game in Illinois four days before the Costco theft.
Detectives are continuing the investigation in hopes of identifying additional theft victims. Watts is being held on $10,000 bail.
-Nexus staff report