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Crimes & ProceduresPolice Department SBPD

This page describes common crimes and standard procedures.

Click a topic below, or scroll down, for more information.

Annoying Phone Calls

An annoying telephone call is one that is made by a person who has the intent to annoy and addresses to or about such other person any obscene language or addresses to such other person any threat to inflict injury to the person or property of the person addressed or any member of his family, or one who makes a telephone call with the intent to annoy another and without disclosing his true identity to the person answering the telephone, whether or not conversation ensues from making the telephone call.

What to Do

  • If it is an emergency situation Dial 911
  • Call the police department and make a report 897-2300 (non-emergency)
  • After a police report is made, call GTE security (805) 372-8431
  • Have GTE put a "trap" on your phone line.
  • A Crime Against Persons detective will then call to investigate after GTE notifies that detective of a successful “trap” for the purpose of seeking a misdemeanor complaint.

Assault or Battery

Definition Of Assault

An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.

Definition Of Battery

A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.

To Report An Assault Or Battery

  • If the crime just occurred and/or if someone requires medical assistance, call 911.
  • If no one is injured call 897-2300.

Conducting The Initial Investigation

The investigating officer will ask victims and witnesses for details of the incident. Correct information is extremely important because it can assist in making a speedy arrest and help determine the type of criminal charges to be filed. It is important not to collaborate information with other victims and witnesses as it may alter what was actually seen.

Making The Report

When the investigation is completed, the officer will write a report and send it to the Crimes Against Persons Section.

Conducting The Follow-Up Investigation

The Crimes Against Persons Section will review the case, contact the victim and witnesses, file charges when possible and do everything within reason to arrest the suspect.

Burglary / Theft

Definition of Burglary

The entering of any structure with the intent to commit petty theft, grand theft, or any other felony.

Definition of Theft

A person commits an act of theft if someone unlawfully obtains another's property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner.

Reporting a Burglary or Theft

Call the Santa Barbara Police Department at 911 or 882-8900 or 897-2300. (Do not disturb anything at the scene.)

Collecting Evidence & Making a Report

The investigating officer will collect evidence and prepare a report. The officer will ask the victim to make an inventory to determine what was taken.

Be prepared to supply the make, model and serial numbers of the stolen property.

(Avoid touching or disturbing anything until the officer has arrived and collected evidence.)

Officer's Investigation

The investigating officer will conduct an investigation and ask questions such as the following:

  • What time did you leave the house?
  • What time did you return?
  • What did you see when you returned?
  • Where was the stolen property located?
  • Have you talked with any of your neighbors?
  • If you have, what did they tell you they saw or heard?
  • Are you willing to prosecute the guilty parties?

Documenting the Loss

To document any further property loss discovered after the officer has left the scene, the victim should complete the Santa Barbara Police Department's Property Form left by the investigating officer. After completing the form, the victim has two options:

  1. Mail the additional information to the Santa Barbara Police Department at 215 E. Figueroa St., Santa Barbara, Ca. 93101. (Be sure to include the case number.)
  2. Go to the Santa Barbara Police Department to file a follow-up report.

Follow-Up Investigation

Only a small percentage of all burglary and theft cases have follow-up investigations, since most of these cases lack sufficient investigative leads (like witnesses, suspects, traceable evidence). However, all cases are reviewed by the investigators and the inactive cases are kept on file. The victim is not contacted again unless there are new developments in the case.

To Obtain Information About Your Case

Call the Burglary Detail at 897-2335, Monday- Friday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Please have your case number ready.

Child Abuse

The victims need the strength and reassurance of their parents. If a parent finds out the child has been a victim, the most important thing is to ensure the child's safety and well being. This means the parent must remain calm and under control. This is especially important in sexual abuse cases where parental help is needed to calm the child.

Definition: A child abuser is any person who willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of such child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits such child to be placed in such situation that its person or health may be endangered, or willfully inflicts upon any child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition.

Aiding a Physically Abused Child

Medical examinations are necessary in physical abuse cases to determine the extent of injuries and to provide expert medical verification that injuries did occur.

Aiding a Sexually Abused Child

In sexual assault cases, medical attention is needed not only to gather evidence from the victim's body and clothing, but also to determine whether or not any of the following are true:

  • The child was injured.
  • The assault resulted in pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.
  • Other physical indications that support the victim's claims.

If the sexual assault happened within the past 72 hours, hospital attention should be sought quickly. Before the examination, do not bathe or otherwise clean the victim. Be sure to bring clean clothing for the victim. Clothing worn during the assault will be kept by the police.

Reporting a Child Abuse

Notify the authorities:

Santa Barbara Police Department

  • 911 - if it's in progress
  • 897-2300 - to make a report

Child Protective Services

  • (800) 367-0166
  • (805) 683-2724 or
  • (805) 692-5743 after 5 PM, weekends, holidays

Persons reporting actual or suspected child abuse incidents are protected by law from civil liabilities and retaliatory lawsuits, provided the reports are made in good faith and without malicious intent. The identities of the persons making the reports are kept confidential and, in some cases, reports will be accepted anonymously, if necessary.

It is a crime for a person to fail to report physical and / or sexual child abuse if that person has a professional / special relationship with the child (i.e., teacher, principal, school official, doctor, medical personnel, psychiatrist, psychologist).

Conducting the Investigation & Making the Report

When a call is received by the Police Department, a uniformed police officer is sent to see the victim and conduct an initial investigation.

Conducting the Full Investigation

When the police or County Children's Protective Services receive a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, a full investigation is launched. Both agencies are concerned with the safety of the child an share information, although they have different responsibilities during the investigation. The police department, for example, concentrates on determining whether or not a criminal offense has been committed. Children's Protective Services, on the other hand, determines the state of the victim's well being and the need for civil intervention. This joint effort is believed to be best for the victim.

Apprehending & Prosecuting the Suspect

This depends on many factors, especially the following:

  1. Identification of the suspect.
  2. Credibility of the victim's testimony.
  3. Strength of the evidence.

The Crimes Against Persons Section conducts follow-up investigations involving investigates physical and sexual abuse cases.

Disturbances / Loud Parties

You can call the police department at 911 when your peace is being disturbed. This includes unlawful fighting in public, loud and unreasonable noise done maliciously and willingly, or publicly using offensive words which are likely to provoke an immediate reaction.

An officer cannot cite nor arrest anyone for disturbing the peace, except when the officer witnesses a fight. For an officer to take legal action against a disturbance, it is necessary that a victim sign a citizen's arrest against the person(s) causing the disturbance to that victim.

Domestic Violence

It is a crime for a member or former member of your family or household to physically injure you.

To report Domestic Violence Call 911

Please tell the investigating officers:

  • If you or any other resident in the house has been injured.
  • If you believe you will be in danger when the officer leaves. 
  • You have the right to: 
    Ask the attending officer for an Emergency Protective Order (E.P.O.) if the violence occurs in the evening or on weekends when the court is closed. The E.P.O. is valid for 2 court days, allowing the plaintiff time to get a temporary restraining order.
  • Ask the prosecutor to file a criminal complaint against the suspect.
  • Ask for a court order to protect you. For example, you could get a court order that:
    • Forbids the abuser from any further acts of violence
    • Orders the abuser to leave your household.
    • Establishes temporary custody for your children and directs the abuser not to interfere with your children or property

If an individual wants to act as their own attorney they can obtain the forms and instructions at no cost from the County Clerk's Office. There is no filing fee required when delivering the documents for filing to the Clerk's Office.
For further information on temporary restraining orders, consult the District Attorney's Office, a private attorney or the Legal Aid Foundation.

The Legal Aid Foundation has a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 6pm as well as available appointments throughout the week. Please call (805) 963-6754 or drop in at Monday through Thursday, 9:30am – noon and 1:30 – 4pm.

Legal Aid is located at 301 East Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.


Definition: Every person who, with intent to defraud, signs the name of another person, or a fictitious person, knowing that he or she has no authority to do so, or falsely makes, alters, forges, or counterfeits, and document listed in Section 470(a) of the Penal Code

To Report a Forgery

Call 897-2300. This report needs to be made in person either at the police department or out in the field with a police officer.

Keep the Forged Document

If you have the forged document, protect it. Do not damage the : document and do not handle the document as it is possible to get fingerprints off of paper. Even though the document may have already been touched, set it aside and do not allow it to be handled again unless otherwise directed by investigators. The forged document(s) can be used as evidence to possibly link the crime to a suspect.

Be Aware!

Do not make any civil agreement to collect the funds as it could invalidate the case. Prior to making the report, try to gather all original documents and any documentation and information applicable to the suspect.


To Report a Fraud

Be aware, somebody may ask you to let them use some of your money where there is no risk to you. If you are suspicious about this or them, do not hesitate in calling the police. Dial 911 if they are there now or 897-2300 if this has already occurred and the subject(s) has gone.

Do not make any civil agreement to collect the funds as it could invalidate the case.

Prior to making the report, try to gather all original documents and any documentation and information applicable to the suspect.


An individual can apply to the court to obtain an order to protect them from being harassed by others. The forms and instructions are available at the County Clerk's Office for a fee. There is a filing fee required to file the documents with the County Clerk .

For Assistance & Information

Visit the Legal Resource Center at the Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St. on the second floor in the McMahon Law Library. Walk-ins only.

Monday: 10 am - noon and 1:30 - 4:30
Tues - Thur: 9 am - noon and 1:30 - 4:30


Reporting A Homicide

Call 911

  • The dispatcher will send an officer to the scene.
  • Don't touch or move anything. Do not cover or move the deceased.
  • While waiting for the police, you should write down the license plate numbers of any vehicles you saw leaving the area.
  • Make a note of any suspicious persons seen leaving the area.
  • When the officer arrives, there will be a search for evidence and you will be asked to provide any information you may have.

Reporting Additional Information

If you have additional information on a particular homicide, call the Homicide Detectives Section

  • 897-2335
  • 963-0873
  • 569-COPS for a 24 hour answering machine

Juvenile Offenses

Specific Offenses Commonly Committed by Juveniles Include

  • Property crimes such as burglary, theft, and vandalism.
  • Crimes such as assault.
  • Public intoxication
  • Disorderly conduct.
  • Status offenses, such as running away from home.

Detention of Juvenile Offenders

Police may hold juveniles for the following reasons:

  • The juvenile has been accused of violating the law.
  • The juvenile is in protective custody, either for being involved in questionable circumstances or for being with a person who was arrested.
  • Police cannot place out-of-control nor runaway juveniles in a locked facility (e.g.,Juvenile Hall). They will be referred to Child Protective Services.

Processing Juvenile Offenders

Juvenile offenders are handled differently than adult suspects. Depending on the specific circumstances, juveniles will either be released directly to their parents or be taken to the police department for short-term detention, processing and investigation.

Release to Parents or Guardians

In most cases, juveniles can be released to their parents or legal guardians within two hours of the arrest. However, cases requiring more investigation may require longer detention of the suspect. In all cases, however, an officer will notify parents or guardians that their child is in custody. The officer also will cite the reasons why the action is being taken.

Transfer To County Custody

  • Santa Barbara County Juvenile Probation Department telephone number is 692-4840
  • Santa Maria Juvenile Hall 4263 California Boulevard, Santa Maria, CA 934-6270
  • Santa Barbara Booking Station 4500 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA692-4800
  • Child Protective Services: 681-4600 Spanish: 737-7045 After 5 PM, weekends, holidays: 569-2255

Juveniles not released to parents or guardians usually are transferred to Juvenile Hall.

In cases where there is evidence to support charges against juvenile offenders up to 18 years of age, the suspects are referred over to the Santa Barbara County Juvenile Probation Department. Offenders younger than 10 years are turned over to Child Protective Services.

Each case referred to the Juvenile Probation Department is screened before a decision is made either to seek court action or to use other corrective measures. Since children under 10 cannot be held legally accountable for their actions, they do not face court action. Instead, the case is turned over to Protective Services for action.

Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara

Free civil legal services are available to low-income families and senior citizens in the following priority areas: family law as related to domestic violence, landlord/tenant law, public benefits (CalWORKs, GR, SSI, MediCal. Services include Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinics, plus free community legal education presentations to the general public. Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) utilizes volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono services.

Location 301 E. Cañon Perdido St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
301 S. Miller St.
Santa Maria, CA 93454
604 E. Ocean Ave.
Suite B
Lompoc, CA 93436
Contact Information (805) 963-6754
(805) 963-6756 Fax
(805) 922-9909
(805) 347-4494 Fax
(805) 736-6582
(805) 347-4494 Fax
Hours of Operation 9:30 am-4 pm
(M-Th, closed F)
9:30 am- 4 pm
(M-Th, closed F)
9:30 am- 4 pm
(M-Th, closed F)

Missing Persons

A child and juvenile are defined as a person younger than 18 years of age. An adult is a person 18 or older. There is no time requirement before a person can be listed as missing.

Reporting a Missing Child or Juvenile Under 13 Years Old

  1. If a child or juvenile is believed to be missing, parents should first make sure the youngster is not inside the home or anywhere in the immediate area.
  2. Contact the police if the youngster still cannot be found. Dial 911.
  3. The officer receiving the call will request the following information:
    • Full name, including nicknames and aliases
    • Race, Sex, Age and date of birth
    • Hair and eye color
    • Clothing worn when last seen
    • Physical Characteristics
    • Home or apartment address and number
    • Telephone Number
    • Last school attended and grade level
    • Parents names, addresses and telephone numbers (home and work)
    • Last person known to have seen the youngster
    • Circumstances of the disappearance
    • A current photo of the missing person, if available
    • It may be necessary to obtain photos, dental charts and other pertinent medical information of the missing person
The officer then enters the report into the National Crime Information Center's computer files. Such information can be helpful to other agencies in locating missing children.

If You Find a Missing Child or Juvenile

When a missing youngster is found or has returned home, the Police Department should be contacted immediately at 897-2300 so the case can be closed.

Reporting a Missing Person 13 Years & Older

Steps in reporting a missing person 13 years and older are basically the same as those for reporting missing children or juveniles under 13 years of age.

To report an adult missing, call the Police Department's Record Bureau at 897-2300.

Priority is given to cases involving elderly, senile or mentally incompetent persons. As with missing youngsters, there is no waiting period for the report to be accepted.

You will be required to sign a release form prior to the adult being listed as missing on the National Crime Information Computer.

Finding a Missing Adult

When a missing adult is located or returns home, the Police Department should be contacted immediately so the case can be closed.

The "Crimes Against Persons" Section investigates cases involving missing children, juveniles, and adults.


To report any suspected drug violations call 897-2335, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, or 897-2300. Callers may remain anonymous.

When blatant street narcotics activity is occurring, call 911.

The Narcotics Section is responsible for investigating violations of drug laws.


Dial 911 if you have, or believe to have, somebody wandering, loitering, or prowling on property that is not theirs without visible or lawful business with the owner or occupant of that property.


Definition: Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.

During A Robbery

  • The victim should attempt to remember the following precautions:
  • Remain calm and listen to the robber's demands. If you panic, you increase the possibility of violence.
  • Avoid making sudden movements.
  • Do not resist a robber's efforts to take your property.
  • Do not offer items that are not specifically requested.
  • Observe the suspect's physical description (i.e., sex, race, age and clothing worn.)
  • Without placing yourself in danger, attempt to notice the license plate number of the suspect's car, if one is seen.

After a Robbery Has Occurred

  • Go to a safe location as close as possible to the robbery scene and call 911.
  • Keep all witnesses at the scene until the police can interview them. If a witness has to leave, get their name, address and phone number.
  • Don't touch or move any evidence.
  • Write down a complete description of the suspect, weapon, if any, and vehicle used.
  • List all property taken, along with serial numbers when possible.

Sex Crimes

The follow-up investigation of sex crimes, such as sexual assault and indecent exposure, is handled by the Crimes Against Persons Section, Sex Crimes Unit.

Definition: A person commits a sexual assault when they intentionally or knowingly do any of the following to another person and it is committed against that person's will.

  • Causes the sexual organ of another person to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus or sexual organ of another person, including the suspect.
  • Touching of the breast, buttocks, or genital area of a person without their consent.
  • Penetration of another person by any means.
If You Are a Victim of Sexual Assault
  1. Report the crime as soon as possible by calling 911
  2. Recall as much as possible about the attacker.
  3. Preserve all physical evidence. Do not take a bath, douche, wash or change clothes or linens.
  4. Do not touch anything handled by the attacker.
  5. You may need a medical examination. The exam will be paid for by the Police Department if the victim files a police report.
  6. Be sure to take clean clothing to wear after the examination. Clothing worn during the attack will be turned over to the police for laboratory analysis.

Important Phone Numbers

  • If medical assistance is needed call: 911
  • Sex Crimes Unit: 897-2335
  • Rape Crisis: 963-6832
  • Help Line: 564-3696
  • Child Welfare Services: 367-0166
  • Domestic Violence Solutions: 964-5245

Conducting the Investigation & Making a Report

When the officers arrive, they will look for evidence and fill out a report. The report will be sent to the Sex Crimes Unit for further investigation.

Follow-Up Investigations

These are the responsibility of the Sex Crimes Unit. One of the unit's investigators will contact the victim as soon as possible to get a written statement.

Traffic Accident

If you are involved in an accident, you should do the following:

  1. Check for injuries
  2. Assess extent of damage.
  3. Determine location of accident (direction of travel, if on freeway).
  4. If possible, move vehicles to safe location.
  5. Exchange driver's license, vehicle and insurance information.
  6. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses.

One of the persons involved in the accident should call the police at 882-8900 or 911 (if there are injuries) to report the accident. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  1. Is anyone hurt?
  2. Are vehicles drivable?
  3. Does one of the drivers appear to be intoxicated?
  4. Do both drivers have a valid driver's license?
  5. Is a driver unable or unwilling to show proof of financial responsibility?
  6. Is a city, state or federal vehicle involved?
  7. Is city, state or federal property involved in the accident?
  8. Is hazardous material involved?

Often, it is not necessary to wait for a police officer. The police dispatcher will be able to tell you if an officer must be sent to the accident scene. You may be able to file an accident report at the police station, 215 E. Figueroa Street.

Drivers should be sure to exchange the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Home and work phone numbers
  4. Driver's license information
  5. License number of vehicle
  6. Make, year and model of vehicle
  7. Insurance information

If a driver or pedestrian is hurt and unable to exchange information, the police officer will get the necessary information from that person and make it available to you.

Notify DMV: Vehicle Code Section 16000

The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in damage to the property of any ONE party in excess of five hundred dollars ($500) or in the injury or death of any person MUST submit a SR-1 Form to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days.

Note: Failure To Comply May Result In Suspension Of Your Driver's License.

Form SR-1 may be obtained from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Highway Patrol, any police station, motor vehicle club, or insurance agent.

If city or state property is damaged, you will be contacted regarding possible liability.

Last Updated: Apr 5, 2013
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