Tuesday, 16 April 2024

REGIONAL: Willits man arrested for stealing, selling saddle

MENDOCINO COUNTY – A Willits man has been arrested after he confessed to stealing an expensive saddle and then selling it.

Jason Garth Gilstrap, 46, was arrested on Feb. 4 on charges of burglary, forgery and possession of stolen property in the case, according to a report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

On Jan. 12 Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies received a report that a western saddle valued at $2,500 and farrier equipment valued at $200 had been stolen from a barn at 998 Hearst Willits Road sometime in the previous 24 hours. Smallcomb said deputies took a burglary report at that time.

On Jan. 29, an employee of the Black Horse tack store contacted the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and advised that she had purchased a saddle matching the description of the stolen saddle, according to the report.

Smallcomb said the woman later saw a picture of the saddle she had purchased on a flier placed on a bulletin board by the victim of the theft. She called the owner of the saddle and advised she was now in possession of his stolen property.

The employee told deputies she purchased the saddle from a white male in his forties for $250 on Jan. 28. Smallcomb said she was able to provide the deputies with the false name used by the suspect, his physical description and that of a companion he had with him that day. She also was able to provided an accurate description of the suspect's vehicle.

Based on the vehicle description provided by the Black Horse employee, deputies were able to locate the suspect's companion. Smallcomb said information gleaned from that interview led to the identification of Gilstrap, whose identity later was confirmed by a photo lineup shown to the tack store employee.

Gilstrap confessed to using a false name to sell the stolen saddle, Smallcomb said. He was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. Bail was set at $15,000.

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