July 12, 2021 – Santa Barbara County, Ca.
There are times when a community’s citizenry simply gets fed up with persistent crimes of a certain nature going unchecked in their neighborhoods. For the past several, the South Santa Barbara County City of Carpinteria has been routinely and consistently targeted by thieves specializing in the pre-dawn thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles parked overnight on residential streets.
Going after the precious metals locked inside of catalytic converters, thieves have been working in the dark of night, jacking cars up and then using metal-cutting power tools to crudely saw and chop the metal parts from the under-carriages of cars, vans, and pickup trucks.
Another example of this brazen crime took place on a quiet Carpinteria street at approximately 2:50 a.m. on July 8 th .
According to the man currently serving as Carpinteria’s Chief of Police, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Lt. Butch Arnoldi, this time, vigilant neighbors—no doubt hearing “what sounded like a saw” coming from the curbside outside their homes—summoned law
Rolling up to the scene, SBSD patrol deputies spotted a vehicle speeding away from the reported address and forced it to a hard stop. Contact with the car’s occupants—Los Angeles residents 39- year-old Rufino Garcia-Vasquez, 37-year-old Gustavo Pineda-Duran, and 34-year-old Samuel Gallegos-Espinoza—soon revealed them to be in possession of “two catalytic converters, two reciprocating saws, and two car jacks.”
All three men were arrested and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where they were booked on charges of possession of stolen property, grand theft, conspiracy, and possession of burglary tools, with their bail set at $1,000,000 each.
Photo: Courtesy www.caranddriver.com