Photo: K9 Zeke, good boy
May 31, 2022 – Santa Barbara County, Ca.
With the cost of precious metals outpacing the value of the U.S. dollar, thefts of catalytic converters from parked automobiles are proliferating throughout the county, with the boldness of thieves apparently respecting few limits.
According to Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Raquel Zick, evidence of that came at high noon (broad daylight!) on May 25 th when a Santa Maria vehicle owner spotted two guys “attempting to saw the catalytic converter off” his car. When the car’s owner confronted Santa Maria residents 35-year-old Francisco Meza-Cardenas and 31-year-old Abel Barajas Zavala, one of them “swung a collapsed scissor-jack” at him, whereupon both men promptly fled “into an adjacent field.”
Pursuant to the victim’s 911 Emergency call to report the crime, deputies arrived and established a perimeter in an attempt to locate the perpetrators. County Air Support and a Sheriff’s K9 unit wee soon on the scene to help deputies in their search for the suspects.
The Sheriff’s helicopter observed the suspects as they ran “through a field with thick, tall brush” and called to them over loudspeakers with the suggestion that they surrender. When it became apparent that the two men weren’t interested in following that advice, SBSD Deputy Shane Moore took the leash off his K9 partner “Zeke.” As there’s nothing more a healthy dog enjoys more than a good chase, it didn’t take Zeke long to sink his teeth into Meza-Cardenas and bring him under control. Zavala—“continuing to run through the field”—was pursued a bit further by
the airborne helicopter crew and ultimately brought to heel by deputies on the ground.
Meza-Cardenas was transported to Santa Maria Medical Center for treatment of injuries provided to him courtesy of Zeke, following which both he and Zavala were transported to Santa Barbara County Jail where they were booked on charges of resisting arrest, attempted grand theft, vehicle theft, conspiracy, and assault with a deadly weapon, with their bail set at $60,000.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Sheriff K9 Division