UCSB Police Dept. officers disguised in street apparel executed a sting operation at the Rec Cen on Wednesday, resulting in the arrest of a UCSB student.
In response to a chain of wallet thefts that occurred at the MultiActivity Court Rec Cen expansion on Tuesday, detectives planted a decoy wallet containing 50 marked dollar bills and a set of keys in a monitored cubicle in the hopes of catching a thief.
Second-year biological sciences major Farukh Ahmad was arrested at 4:20 p.m. after attempting to leave the premises in possession of the stolen wallet and a sweatshirt, both which he claimed belonged to a friend.
According to UCPD spokesman Matt Bowman, the department is recommending that the district attorney charge Ahmad with two counts of petty theft. He said UCPD is urging any additional victims to identify themselves as part of the case against Ahmad.
“If anyone else is a victim in this case and has not yet come forward please contact [me],” Bowman said “Please remember not to leave valuables unattended in the Rec Cen and carry only your identification card.”
During the sting, officers watched Ahmad approach the cubicles and burgle the wallet, a set of keys and a sweatshirt. Ahmad wrapped the items in the sweater, and then attempted to flee through the main entrance, where he was arrested and questioned by detectives.
The suspect said he was working out and saw the items, which he claimed belonged to a friend. When questioned as to when he planned on verifying the wallet’s owner, the police report indicates Ahmad said he eventually intended to look at the wallet and see if belonged to his friend.
While no evidence exists linking Ahmad to the three prior thefts reported Tuesday, Bowman said the theft followed the same pattern as the prior offenses.
“He entered the building specifically to steal,” Bowman said.
Rec Cen Student Supervisor Russell Wolking said the MAC staff is not responsible for stolen property, and has no surveillance system. Wolking said there have been no prior burglary problems at the complex.
“You put yourself there at your own risk, but we have had no prior incidents of theft,” said Wolking, a third-year business economics major.