Posted: Jun 14, 2012 11:04 AM by Caroline Lowe, KSBY News
Updated: Jun 15, 2012 8:16 AM
A man hired to provide security overnight for Thursday's graduation exercises at an Orcutt junior high is in jail, accused of stealing memorabilia from Chicago White Sox Manager Robin Ventura on display at the school.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Drew Sugars said the guard, Cameron Taylor, was caught with one of Ventura's autographed baseballs in his jacket pocket at Lakeview Junior High just after midnight.
A deputy said he spotted the ball when the 21-year-old guard reached into his car to provide identification after deputies responded to the burglary alarm at the school gym.
They also found a piece of the lock from the broken display case in Taylor's pocket.
When the deputies arrived, they saw someone had broken into the glass case containing the memorabilia from the former All-Star third baseman and Central Coast legend. The also found several items from the display case in a trash can nearby.
It was during their search of the school property deputies said they were approached by a man in a security guard uniform, identified as Taylor.
He was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail for felony burglary and petty theft.
Ventura attended Lakeview Junior High and he and his wife have contributed to building the school gymnasium, according to the principal.
His jerseys and other memorabilia from his days as a professional baseball player are on still on display on the gym wall. The principal has since put the memorabilia from the Ventura display case in a secure location until a new lock is installed.
Taylor had worked for the past several months as a guard for the Overland Security company in Santa Maria.
The president of the company, Edward Zemaitis, said Taylor had been a very good employee with an excellent job record who was hired after a strict background check and integrity testing. He also underwent a background investigation by the State of California Department of Justice, according to Zamaitis.
Zemaitis said he was "extremely unhappy" to learn of Taylor's alleged involvement with the theft of Ventura's memorabilia. He also said, "We are saddened by his decisions that put us all in a bad light with our clients and the community at large. Due to this incident, we will review our policies toward closing any gaps we may have in our personnel and hiring policies."
Zemaitis said he has offered full cooperation with the investigation of the incident and agreed to compensate for any costs involved with the repairs of the damaged Ventura display.
We will have more on this story tonight on KSBY News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
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