Sprint Store Armed Robbery Led to Foot Pursuit and Arrests in Carpinteria
Mugshots of Vaafato Matvia, Tafilele Puaauli, Crystal Viramontes, and Mianuel Bringas (SBPD)
Source: Santa Barbara Police Department
On Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at approximately 4 P.M., Santa Barbara Police Officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Sprint Store on 1011 State Street.
Two suspects, 45-year-old Tafilele Puaauli and 34-year-old Vaafato Matvia, used a ruse to enter into the store that was occupied but closed for business. Once inside the business they brandished a firearm and locked the two lone employees inside a bathroom. The suspects retrieved a number of Apple products valued at approximately $130,000 and left out the back door to a City Parking lot where a car was waiting for them.
Officers quickly located video surveillance footage that captured the vehicle description along with the license plate. The suspect information was immediately broadcast to outside agencies including the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.
A short time later, the CHP located the suspect vehicle stuck in traffic approaching Carpinteria. Officers from the City as well as County responded to assist CHP. The suspects fled the vehicle just before the Carpinteria Avenue exit. Officers found footprints in the mud leading over the train tracks. Santa Barbara Police K9 “Jake” tracked the scent of the suspects to nearby foliage. One suspect attempted to evade Jake and was bitten. The other suspect gave up without incident. Officers located a loaded firearm in the suspect vehicle along with the stolen merchandise.
Subsequent investigation revealed two additional co-conspirators were also involved in the robbery. Investigators coordinated their efforts with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who later located and arrested the two outstanding suspects, 29-year-old Crystal Viramontes and 27-year-old Mianuel Bringas. Investigators responded to Los Angeles and took custody of the co-conspirators.
All four suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail for Robbery, Kidnapping and Conspiracy charges.
February 6, 2018 : CHP Pursues Suspects in Carpinteria