H-SANTA BARBARA COUNTY

Dec 18, 2013 1:55 AM by Lindsay MacLeod, KSBY News

SB County Sheriff's Office looking for suspected car thief, wrong way driver

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office needs the public's help finding a fugitive who they say escaped after stealing several cars and driving down the wrong side of Highway 101 to avoid being arrested.

Sheriff's deputies are looking for Juan Miguel Bejar, 29, of Oxnard.

At about 3:25 a.m. Saturday, deputies responded to the 4100 block of Via Real in Carpinteria after a couple called in to say they witnessed their car being stolen in front of their home. They told deputies the suspect saw that they were watching him, and he threatened to use a firearm. No weapon was actually seen.

The victims ran back into their home, and the suspect, who was later identified as Bejar, took off in their car.

Deputies say Bejar crashed at the scene and then jumped into a green van that was waiting for him. Deputies say his brother and wife were inside the green van, and the van had been reported stolen from Oxnard.

According to reports, Bejar then led deputies on a high speed chase, but deputies stopped following the van when Bejar drove onto Highway 101 at Santa Monica Road going southbound in the northbound lanes.

Deputies spotted him shortly after near Upson Road and Santa Monica Road. They say Bejar drove back onto Highway 101 at Padaro Lane, again going the wrong direction. This time, he drove northbound in the southbound lanes.

Sheriff's deputies paralleled him on the right side of the freeway. Deputies say Bejar then made a U-turn at Sheffield Drive and got back on the freeway going southbound in the correct direction.

A deputy used a Pursuit Intervention Technique, or PIT, to disable the van.

Bejar ran away from the car, and deputies weren't able to find him.

His wife, Sandra Lopez, 24, of Oxnard, and his brother, Jose Bejar, 28, of Oxnard, were arrested. They have been charged with attempted burglary, receiving stolen property, conspiracy, and possession of a controlled substance.

Deputies searched the van, and they say they found stolen property and burglary tools. The reported firearm was not found.

The sheriff's office says Bejar has an extensive criminal history. He is considered dangerous, and he may be armed. If you have any information on where he is or if you see him, call 911. You can also leave an anonymous tip at (805) 681-4171.

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