SANTA PAULA : Man in Wheelchair Arrested in Burglary

Sheriff's deputies arrested a disabled Santa Paula man confined to a wheelchair Tuesday for allegedly driving the getaway car from the scene of a botched burglary in Ojai, authorities said.

Juan Sandaval Martinez, 37, was taken into custody in Casitas Springs after deputies stopped his customized van and arrested him on suspicion of burglary, said Sheriff's Lt. Gary Markley.

Two other men broke into an Ojai home only to flee when the occupant returned, Markley said.

They leaped from the van and eluded capture by running into the brush-choked bed of the Ventura River, he said.

Deputies conducted a search for two hours, assisted by a helicopter and canine unit, but failed to locate the men, he said.

When Martinez was arrested, he first told deputies that he had been kidnaped at gunpoint by the two other suspects, but later admitted his involvement in the attempted burglary, Markley said.

The incident started at 11:40 a.m. when an Ojai woman returned to her home in the 10000 block of Creek Road and found Martinez parked out front in his van, which had a handicapped placard.

Martinez told the woman that he was looking for a friend, the woman told deputies.

When she entered her house, the woman came across two men in the den, where they had stacked stereo equipment and other household goods that they apparently wanted to take, Markley said.

When she screamed, the two men fled the house.

Deputies located the van on California 33 at Nye Road in Casitas Springs, where they pulled it over.

Martinez was transported to Ventura County Jail, where he was booked on a burglary charge, Markley said.

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