3 L.A. men arrested in Santa Barbara County for alleged catalytic converter thefts

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Three men from Los Angeles were arrested in Santa Barbara County for theft of catalytic converters early Thursday, police said. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office)

Three men from Los Angeles were arrested in Santa Barbara County for theft of catalytic converters early Thursday, police said. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office)

Three men from Los Angeles were arrested in Santa Barbara County on suspicion of stealing catalytic converters early Thursday, police said. 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at the 1000 block of Palmetto Way in the city of Carpinteria about 2:50 a.m. for reports that a catalytic converter theft had just occurred, officials said.

The person who contacted authorities told deputies they heard what sounded like a saw and they realized a theft was most likely occurring and provided a description of the suspect’s vehicle. 

After deputies located the suspect’s vehicle they found two catalytic converters, two reciprocating saws and two car jacks, officials said.

The suspects, Rufino Garcia-Vasquez, 39, Gustavo Pineda-Duran, 37 and Samuel Gallegos-Espinoza, 34, were quickly located and arrested.  

“We would like to thank the community member for calling to report this crime and for providing a vehicle description and direction of travel,” Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi, who serves as the Chief of Police for the City of Carpinteria, said in a statement. “This is a great example of community awareness that resulted in the successful apprehension of suspects who often slip away undetected.”

The suspects were booked at the Santa Barbara County jail on suspicion of possession of stolen property, grand theft, conspiracy and possession of burglary tools. 

Pineda-Duran was also booked on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance and Gallegos-Espinoza was allegedly driving without a license, officials said.

All of the suspects are being held on $1,000,000 bail.

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