UCSB Police Department detectives arrested 20-year-old Aaron Brian Ceja, a former UCSB student, as the primary subject in multiple burglaries at Santa Catalina Residence Hall on Feb. 5.
The perpetrator, who has been in custody since Feb. 28, admitted responsibility for the crimes while incarcerated and continues to be held in Santa Barbara County Jail, according to UCPD Corporal Matthew Bly. Detectives are now in the process of tracking and recovering the stolen property, which was no longer in Ceja’s possession and valued at over $5,000.
Ceja will be charged with five counts of felony burglary, with each room entered constituting a separate incident. Bly said he is the only suspect in custody and the department believes he acted alone.
According to Bly, digital media played a large role in Ceja’s capture.
“We got an anonymous tip on our website from a community member, and that tip led to the suspect being identified,” Bly said. “We also used a social networking site to identify the suspect.”
Ceja was arrested after a search warrant was issued for a private resident in the Los Angeles area, Bly said.
Director of Residential Life Charlene Chew-Ogi said on-campus residents tend to be very trusting of each other, making them an easy target for theft and placing extra importance on preventative measures.
“When someone unfamiliar shows up [on your dorm floor] it’s a good idea to call the police and raise the ante on about it,” Chew-Ogi said. “Others should realize that we don’t take this situation lightly.”
Bly also said locking the door is the easiest and most effective preventive measure.
“Most burglaries aren’t forced entries; they’re crimes of opportunity,” Bly said. “So securing your home, apartment or dorm room and adding a deterrent where your valuables are secured somehow will prevent a lot of these crimes from taking place.”