Freeway Chase Ends with Arrests of Suspected Catalytic Converter Thieves

Freeway Chase Ends with Arrests of Suspected Catalytic Converter Thieves

August 3, 2022 – Santa Barbara, Ca.
With little apparent ability to interrupt the marketplace for the precious metals found inside of the catalytic converters found in the undercarriage of late model cars, law enforcement seems to be relegated to the endless pursuit of those nimble folks stealthy enough to crawl under parked cars intent on stealing the sausage-like devices.

Evidence of that came once again in the pre-dawn hours of July 31 st when Santa Barbara County Sheriffs deputies responded to a report of “possible catalytic converter thefts in progress.”

According to SBSD Public Information Officer Raquel Zick, as the cops arrived at the scene, they spotted “a vehicle that matched the description of outstanding suspects in previous catalytic converter thefts” and promptly tried to pull the vehicle over.

But the occupants of the suspect vehicle—later identified as 40-year-old Los Angeles resident Gustavo Pineda and 41-year-old City of Commerce resident Carlos Alberto Cristales- Mendez—were having none of that, quickly accelerating and turning onto the southbound U.S. Highway 101. At that point, deputies “initiated pursuit” and recruited area CHP units to help out.

As Pineda and Cristales-Mendez careened down the freeway at a high rate of speed, they began lightening their load by flinging “a vehicle jack out the window of the moving vehicle,” followed by a catalytic converter which “damaged a patrol car to the extent that the deputy had to drop out of the pursuit.”

By this point, CHP units were hot on the trail of the suspect vehicle, eventually pulling it to a halt in the City of Ventura. Both Pineda and Cristales-Mendez were taken into custody and transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where they were booked on charged of grand theft, destruction of evidence, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy, evading arrest, vandalism, and throwing a substance from a vehicle with intent to cause great bodily injury.

Pineda remains in custody on a no-bail hold; Cristales-Mendez remains in custody with his bail set at $600,000.

Freeway Chase Ends with Arrests of Suspected Catalytic Converter Thieves was last modified: August 15th, 2022 by admin
Categories: Santa Barbara

About Author

Robert L. McCullough

Bob McCullough is a television and screen writer-producer who has worked for every major television network and film studio with more than 200 produced credits. Bob has recently co-authored “Where Hollywood Hides: Santa Barbara”, a hardcover book featuring a wide range of film, television, and music industry celebrities living on the Central Coast. His weekly iTunes podcast about “all things Hollywood” can be heard at