Santa Maria

Stolen vehicle suspect ID'd with public's help 

The man accused of leading Santa Maria Police on a pursuit in a stolen vehicle late Tuesday night has been identified, thanks to the community's help, but he is still at-large.

The suspect is identified as Manuel Frank Perez, 41, of Santa Maria, who is wanted on felony charges.

Officials now need the public's help in locating him. 

Perez is a Hispanic male, approximately 5 feet, 11 inches tall, 230 pounds, with a mustache, shaved head and numerous tattoos.

He reportedly led police on a chase through the community, during which officers lost sight of him. They later found the stolen car Perez was allegedly driving abandoned in another part of the city.

Officers backtracked and found surveillance of Perez in a convenience store, and also found a witness who saw a person matching Perez's description in the surveillance photograph fleeing from the vehicle.

Police are not asking the public to approach or try to detain him.

Information can be called in anonymously to the dispatch center at 805-928-3781, ext. 2277.

Santa Maria

Two men arrested for purchasing alcohol for minor

The Santa Maria Police Department nabbed two men, who were caught purchasing alcohol for a minor decoy in a "shoulder tap" operation Saturday.

Antonio Dominguez Vazquez, 33, of Santa Maria, was charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor and booked on a misdemeanor warrant.

Phillip Saldana Becerra, 35, of Santa Maria, was charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving with a suspended driver’s license.

Also during the sting, Gabriel Rojas Valencia, 65, of Santa Maria, was charged for consumption of an alcoholic beverage on private property open to the public.

Saturday's operation was attempted at six different locations of “off-sale establishments" in Santa Maria, where the 17-year-old minor decoy contacted 21 individuals, according to police.

The shoulder tap program is intended to reduce the availability of alcoholic beverages to minors. Statistics show that teens have a greater rate of drunken-driving crashes than adults. 

Funding is provided by a California Alcoholic Beverage Control grant that was awarded to the Santa Maria and Guadalupe police departments.

Santa Maria

Valley Reads book club to discuss Defoe's 'Moll Flanders'

The Valley Reads monthly book club will discuss "Moll Flanders," by Daniel Defoe, at its Aug. 28 meeting in Shepard Hall at the Santa Maria Public Library.

The novel tells the story of a woman who had the misfortune of being born in Newgate Prison, located in London, England. It follows the protagonist in her quest of striking it rich by way of marriage. The road to the good life, however, is a rocky one that is paved with romance, deceit, crime, heartbreak and redemption.

The book club, sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Maria Public Library, meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Complimentary snacks and coffee will be served.

To join, sign up at the second-floor information desk at the library, located at 421 S. McClelland St.

Library hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and closed Sunday.

For more information, call 805-925-0994, ext. 8562.

-- Staff reports