A 42-year-old parolee was behind bars Thursday, suspected of being the rifle-toting culprit in a series of food heists in the Malibu and Calabasas areas, but authorities were working to determine if he was involved in the June killing of a man camping with his daughters in Malibu Creek State Park.
Anthony Rauda was arrested around 3:20 p.m. Wednesday in a ravine about a mile-and-a-half north of Mulholland Highway west of Las Virgenes Road in the Malibu Canyon area. Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said deputies combing the area spotted fresh bootprints, followed them for about 50 yards and heard rustling in some brush.
That led to the discovery of the rifle-carrying suspect, prompting a short standoff before the man peacefully dropped his weapon and surrendered, McDonnell said.
The arrest came amid a renewed search effort prompted by an early morning Tuesday burglary at a Calabasas community center, where someone smashed a vending machine and stole food. Investigators quickly linked the break-in to eight other burglaries over the past two years. The culprit was captured on surveillance video in one of the recent crimes, showing him carrying a rifle and sparking speculation he was linked to reported shootings in the Malibu Creek area — including the June killing of 35-year-old Irvine resident Tristan Beaudette.
McDonnell said Wednesday Rauda was booked only on a suspected parole violation while deputies continue to investigate the burglaries. McDonnell said investigators had not yet linked Rauda to the Beaudette killing, but a rifle he was carrying at the time of his arrest was recovered and will undergo forensic analysis.
Rauda, who was dressed in black clothes when arrested, has a criminal history that includes burglaries and weapons violations, McDonnell said.
Tuesday’s burglary occurred about 3 a.m. at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center at 27040 Malibu Hills Road, sheriff’s officials said. Another break-in occurred Oct. 4 in the 700 block of Malibu Canyon Road. There was also a Sept. 30 burglary at a commercial structure in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway. In that case, surveillance video showed the burglar wearing what deputies called “tactical gear” and carrying a rifle.
The suspect in all of the heists stole food, deputies said, suggesting the man was living off the grid in the wilderness, carrying out the burglaries when he needed food.
On Oct. 2, sheriff’s officials conducted a large-scale manhunt in the area, but failed to turn up a suspect. Some residents reported hearing gunfire that night.
On Saturday, a maintenance worker in the Tapia Park area about a mile south of the Malibu Creek State Park campground “encountered a person who matched the description of the armed commercial burglar,” Sgt. Matthew Dunn of the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station said. Dunn said the man asked the park worker for a ride out of the canyon, “because he said there were so many police in the area.”
The maintenance worker left and called deputies, prompting another massive search of the area on Saturday. Deputies combed Malibu Canyon for hours with the aid of three helicopters. The search was called off when darkness fell over the area.
Sheriff’s officials said they believe the suspect may also be linked to a Sept. 24 burglary in the 700 block of Malibu Canyon Road and a July 27 break-in at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center. Other burglaries of which the same person is suspected occurred on March 8, 2017, in the 26800 block of Mulholland Highway; on Oct. 28, 2016, a few miles north of Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas; and on Oct. 10, 2016, in the 26800 block of Dorothy Drive in an unincorporated area near Calabasas, the sheriff’s department reported.
In all of the break-ins, food was stolen, McDonnell said.
The break-ins and searches have heightened trepidation among residents who have been on edge following the June 22 shooting death of Beaudette, who was killed in his tent at Malibu Creek State Park, where he was camping with his two daughters, ages 2 and 4.
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