A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office-initiated sting operation on Sunday and Monday resulted in the arrest of 10 men, nine of whom are Santa Barbara County residents, on charges of lewd conduct in public.

SB Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sgt. Phil Willis said the operation was a “proactive” response to suspicions of men engaging in sexual activity at Rincon Beach in Carpinteria based on leads from a website. The sting involved an undercover sheriff’s deputy standing on the bluffs as a decoy with two other plainclothes officers waiting as backup. Each of the men who approached the lone deputy was arrested upon initiating physical contact with him.

Willis said although a website advocating cruising spots – locations where gay men can meet to discreetly engage in sex – had listed the beach, he was not sure if the men arrested had gone to the beach after having read the website.

“[Rincon] had been advertised on a gay website, but we’re not sure how recently,” Willis said.

Willis said although Rincon Beach is known to the Sheriff’s Office as a cruising spot, no complaints regarding public sex had been filed recently. He said patrols of the beach are usually made in response to complaints, most of which pertain to nude sunbathing.

Three men were arrested Sunday, ranging in age between 39 and 62. All three were residents of Santa Barbara County. Seven more men were arrested Monday; their ages ranged between 40 and 67. All were Santa Barbara County residents except one, who resides in Los Angeles County. Willis said the Sheriff’s Office would continue as long as the illicit activity persists.

“This kind of sting operation is not done frequently,” Willis said, “but it’s going to continue at Rincon Beach.”