Four men suspected of burglarizing two Santa Barbara-area pharmacies were arrested early Sept. 12 as they reportedly prepared to loot a third pharmacy, located in Santa Ynez.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies responded to a burglary in progress at the Montecito Pharmacy, located at the 1400 block of East Valley Road.

Upon arrival, they found the pharmacy was broken into, then began searching the building and surrounding area with the K-9 team but to no avail.

A be-on-the-lookout alert was sent to surrounding law enforcement agencies.

The county Public Safety Dispatch Center received a call from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, alerting them that an hour earlier, Ojai Rexall Drugs, located in the 1100 block of Maricopa Highway in Ojai, had also been burglarized. 

Deputies suspected that the group might be headed north to burglarize more stores, officials said.

At approximately 4:30 a.m., a sheriff's deputy on duty in Santa Ynez saw an Audi SUV enter the parking lot of Star Drugs in the 3500 block of Madera Street.

The vehicle then reportedly drove out of the lot and parked across the street in the post office parking lot. 

A subsequent search of the vehicle reportedly yielded numerous bottles of prescription pills, a yellow crowbar and clothing that matched the description of the clothing worn by the suspects reported in the Montecito and Ojai pharmacy break-ins. 

Deandre Smith, 26, Joseph Smith, 21, Eddie Smith, 20, and Alonnje Gary, 23, all of Long Beach, were arrested and transported to County Jail and all booked on suspicion of commercial burglary, conspiracy, receiving stolen property, possession of burglary tools and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. 

Joseph Smith was also booked on suspicion of loitering/prowling on private property, the Sheriff's Office said.

All four were held on $20,000 bail.

An investigation is underway to determine if the suspects are linked to similar crimes in the Santa Barbara County area and other jurisdictions, officials said.

Investigators are asking anyone with any information regarding the suspects or crimes to call the Sheriff's Office at 683-2724. To leave an anonymous tip, call 681-4171 or visit www.sbsheriff.org/anonymoustips.html.

Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210

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