Two arrested in sheep thefts
Two men have been arrested in connection with the theft of 20 sheep from a Watmaugh Road farm last week.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office has also tied the men to other livestock thefts.
On Sept. 8, a rancher in 3100 block of Adobe Road in Petaluma reported three sheep stolen from her property. The rancher reported seeing a suspicious person trespassing on her property days prior to the theft of her livestock. The alert rancher saw the man leave in a black Mercedes and she recorded his license plate.
On Sept. 16, a Petaluma police officer stopped a green Ford Ranger pick-up truck towing a utility trailer that contained approximately 20 sheep. The driver of the truck was identified as Luis Ortiz Orea, 28, of Petaluma. The Petaluma officer investigated to see if the sheep were stolen, but was unable to determine whether or not they were. Orea was released from the traffic stop, but the officer took photographs of the sheep and wrote down the tag numbers attached to one of the sheep's ears.
Later that morning, a Sheriff’s deputy responded to the 1700 block of Watmaugh Road in Sonoma when a rancher reported approximately 20 sheep stolen from his ranch. This same rancher fell victim to a similar theft on Aug. 12.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Property Crimes division and Rural Crimes Task Force acted on leads and Orea was placed under constant surveillance. As a result of the surveillance, a property in the 4300 block of Sunland Avenue in Santa Rosa was identified as where some of the of the stolen sheep had been taken.
During a search of the property, detectives recovered 17 head of stolen sheep, including the stolen sheep from the Adobe Road Ranch.
The detectives arrested Orea, and his brother, Pedro Ortiz Orea, 30, a resident of Santa Rosa living on the Sunland Avenue property.
Luis Ortiz Orea was charged with two counts of grand theft of livestock and two counts of possession of stolen livestock. Bail was set at $10,000.
Pedro Ortiz Orea was charged with possession of stolen livestock and conspiracy. Bail was set at $5,000.
As a result of the arrests, detectives learned that the sheep stolen from the Watmaugh Road ranch were transported out of county and sold to another suspect, who then sold them to various livestock auction yards. These livestock auction yards have been notified and the cases are still being investigated. Anyone with information in the case is asked to contact Rural Crimes Task Force Detective Tony King at 565-2995.