Santa Margarita man accused of stealing prescription drugs from Atascadero homes

A Santa Margarita man was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of burglarizing three Atascadero homes within 25 minutes in a search for prescription drugs, police said.

Detectives said Joseph Frank Hyde, 21, burglarized homes in the 5600 block of Lobos Road, 5100 block of Fresno Avenue and 5100 block of San Jacinto Avenue, according to the Atascadero Police Department.

Hyde allegedly entered the three homes by forcing a rear window open, entering an open garage and entering an unlocked rear door. Four bottles of prescription medication, including narcotic painkillers, were stolen. The suspect did not know the victims, police said.

At 6:20 p.m. Tuesday, two residents noticed an unfamiliar pickup truck parked in a neighbor’s driveway, police said, and asked the driver what he was doing. The driver, later identified as Hyde, responded by saying he was looking for a specific person, police said, and then abruptly drove away. The neighbors then called the police.

“This is a classic example of exactly how a story like this should end,” Cmdr. Steve Gesell said. “Neighbors looking out for one another and solid police work combined to become key elements resulting in this individual’s prompt apprehension.”

Atascadero police subsequently received two more reports of burglaries within a half-mile of the original burglary.

About three hours later, an officer spotted the pickup parked in a nearby driveway. After questioning a resident of the home, police identified Hyde as the driver of the truck.

Witnesses and victims also identified Hyde as the suspect, and he was arrested at his Santa Margarita home without incident, police said, with the assistance of the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department.

Hyde was charged with three counts of residential burglary and booked into County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond.