Car Parts Thieves Part with Freedom

Santa Barbara – For the past several weeks, drivers in the communities of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, and Goleta have been victims of a surge in the theft of  catalytic converters from parked cars.

Angel Aguilera

According to Santa Barbara Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Riley Harwood, the converters—installed on all vehicles registered in the state—remove toxic chemicals from emissions in a process involving small amounts of precious metals.  It’s those metals—including platinum in many models—which are stripped out of the converters and then sold for cash at scrap yards.  “Toyota pickups and 4Runners are frequent targets because they sit high off the ground and the converters are easily removed,” Harwood said in his report to the media.

Herbert Hernandez

When an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer residing in Goleta spotted a car with three individuals in it moving through his neighborhood well after midnight on December 8th, he notified the area CHP office which promptly sent a marked Highway Patrol unit to the area.  When the CHP black-and-white arrived on the scene, the suspect vehicle quickly accelerated in an attempt to flee the area, committing a number of serious motor vehicle violations, including driving on the wrong side of roadways.

Jesus Alberto Ortiz

The suspect vehicle was stopped by multiple CHP units shortly thereafter, and found Herbert Hernandez, 30, Jesus Alberto Ortiz, 20, and Angel Anguilera, 29, in possession of burglary tools and various automotive tools.  At that time, SBPD was contacted for assistance in investigating possible burglary evidence, and officers Gaston, Venable, Crooks, and Detective Drayton determined that a nearby Toyota pickup truck’s catalytic converter had just been removed.  Further SBPD investigation along the route recently traveled in the suspects’ failed attempt at evasion provided “substantial evidence of multiple thefts of catalytic converters,” Harwood reported, as well as bindles of methamphetamine.

Hernandez, Ortiz, and Aguilera were subsequently booked on $20,000 bail each into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of felony conspiracy to commit grand theft, grand theft, attempted grand theft, vehicle tampering, possession of burglary tools, and possession of controlled substance.

Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking

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Car Parts Thieves Part with Freedom was last modified: January 14th, 2019 by admin
Categories: Santa Barbara
Tags: theft