SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — Tushar Atre was not your typical Santa Cruz surfer.
He owned a successful website design company that had business deals with wealthy Silicon Valley clients. Perhaps more envious than Atre’s success in the business world was his house perched over the ocean at Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz. The scenic surf spot has one of the most famous wave breaks in the world.
Atre’s panoramic views were illustrated in posts on his Instagram page. “What a view!!!!!!!!!” one Instagram follower commented on Atre’s video that showed surfers catching waves crashing below.
On Twitter, he described himself as, “Founder of AtreNet, a boutique web design agency specializing in corporate websites for top Silicon Valley clients. Surfer. Mushroom forager. Always on the go.”
Atre, 50, was kidnapped from his Pleasure Point beach house at 3 a.m. on Oct. 1. At least one person who was with Atre that morning witnessed him being forced by a group of home invaders into a BMW. Hours later, the millionaire’s body was found on a second property he owns, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains along the 24000 block of Soquel San Jose Road.
The motive behind the kidnapping-homicide was robbery, according to Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Ashley Keehn.
“We are not disclosing if, or what, was taken,” Keehn told KRON4.
As of Friday afternoon, no arrests had been made, she said. Multiple suspects are at large.
“We would like to let the community know we believe this is an isolated incident,” Keehn said.
An autopsy that determined Atre’s cause of death has already been completed, however, Keehn said the Sheriff’s Office was declining to release it until Monday.
“We have to wait and alert the family. It’s a very sensitive case,” she told KRON4 Friday.
While the Sheriff’s Office declines to disclose what, if anything, was robbed from the victim, Tushar’s friends suspect cannabis may have been involved in the kidnapping.
Over the past several months, Tushar had invested in California’s newly-formed legal cannabis industry.
Tushar’s longtime friend, Robert Blumberg, told KRON4, “Tushar makes friends very fast. He was a special person. He had a lot of people around him all the time. Tushar was somebody that people liked. He was extremely charming.”
Everyone who met Tushar, remembered him, Blumberg said.
Tushar enjoyed outdoor sports, including mountain biking, surfing, and disc golfing.
“He made a strong impression. He was a very good businessman. There is a shady, underside of the cannabis industry. I didn’t think of Tushar as somebody who was going get trapped in that. So I was just shocked, completely surprised. The kidnapping may not have to do with ( Tushar’s cannabis) business. But most of us are thinking it has to do with the cannabis business,” Blumberg said.
According to friends, Tushar had his sights on making cannabis products that are the most valuable per ounce: Concentrates, also known as wax, dabs, and oils.
Hiring a team to manufacture concentrates is a risky part of the cannabis industry. The people who have the most experience with it are mostly coming from the underground black market, police sources said.
Tushar’s mother is a “globe trotter” who works in the tech industry and spends a lot of time in India, friends said. Tushar is survived by his mother, father, and sister, friends said. Funeral arrangements are pending.