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Catalytic Converter Thieves Arrested
updated: Dec 09, 2012, 12:01 PM

Source: SBPD

Thanks to an observant off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, a crew of catalytic converter thieves has been caught. Herbert Hernandez (age 30), Jesus Alberto Ortiz (age 20), and Angel Aguilera (age 29) were arrested for the felonies of conspiracy to commit grand theft, grand theft, and attempted grand theft and the misdemeanors of possession of burglary tools and vehicle tampering. The men are from Van Nuys, California.

On December 8, 2012 at approximately 2:47 a.m., an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer who lives in Santa Barbara's North End observed a suspicious occupied vehicle, a gold Toyota Corolla, on the street near his home. Concerned that the occupants of the vehicle might be involved in crime, the CHP officer called the Highway Patrol to send officers to check the area. Shortly thereafter two CHP officers in a marked vehicle responded and saw the suspect vehicle on the 4000 block of Otono Drive. When the officers arrived on-scene the suspect vehicle sped away, driving on the wrong side of the street and committing several other traffic violations. The officers were able to follow the suspect vehicle and ultimately stopped it on the 200 block of Lee Drive. The vehicle was driven by Hernandez with Ortiz and Aguilera as passengers. The CHP officers discovered that Hernandez was an unlicensed driver and saw that the trio appeared to be in possession of a variety of tools that could be used in the commission of burglaries, including two-way radios. Believing that the three might have been involved in a theft related crime when they were contacted, the CHP officers requested that Santa Barbara Police Department personnel assist with the investigation.

Sergeant Kenny Kushner, Officer Gary Gaston, Officer Charlie Venable, Officer Kyle Crooks, and Detective Rashun Drayton responded. A Toyota T-100 truck parked on the 4000 block of Otono Drive was located with its catalytic converter partially removed and a pipe cutter still attached. It appeared that the suspects were in the process of stealing this catalytic converter when they were interrupted by the CHP. The route the suspects travelled before being stopped was searched and several items that they apparently discarded as they drove away were recovered; including another catalytic converter, several bindles of methamphetamine, and tools. Detective Drayton interviewed the suspects at the Santa Barbara Police Department and Ortiz and Aguilera confessed that the trio went to Santa Barbara from Van Nuys for the purpose of stealing catalytic converters and selling them for profit.

Later, at 8:40 a.m., Officer Andy Freytag responded to the 400 block of Via Rosa on a report of a stolen catalytic converter. The victim there discovered that the catalytic converter from her Toyota 4-Runner had been stolen when she started her car that morning. After taking her car to a mechanic she was informed that replacing her catalytic converter would cost $1400.00. Detective Drayton met the victim at Firestone at 3948 State Street where her car was raised on a lift and examined. Upon comparing the vehicle's exhaust system with the catalytic converter recovered from the early morning crime scene, it was apparent the catalytic converter had been stolen from this victim's car. The catalytic converter was returned to the victim and it was reinstalled in her vehicle by Firestone for $20.00.

Hernandez, Ortiz, and Aguilera were booked at Santa Barbara County Jail on the aforementioned charges with a bail amount of $20,000.00.

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 351952 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 12:14 PM

Well done, Officer. We are lucky to have you and your fellow officers here in Santa Barbara. Thank you.


 COMMENT 351953 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 12:22 PM

they look like they have been crying :(
someone give them a hug!


 COMMENT 351957 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 12:32 PM

Grrrrrrrrr. 20k bail seems light. Am I wrong to think they'll be out soon committing more crimes.


 COMMENT 351958P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 12:33 PM

Nice job by all the officers and by the Firestone store for reinstalling it for $20.00


 COMMENT 351959P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 12:38 PM

Excellent job, Officer(s)! All of the suspects appear wide-eyed - my first thought was they are all "spun out" and on meth.


 COMMENT 351961P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 12:42 PM

Thanks so much for nabbing these guys. And helping the driver get her catalytic converter back!


 COMMENT 351968 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 01:01 PM

Non-violent crime = slap on the wrist = keep your eyes open for them to be stealing again in a few weeks.


 COMMENT 351969 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 01:06 PM

967 - these guys probably aren't any more "Mexican" than you are Scandinavian or wherever your race prevails from, so good luck with that. Stuck between a rock and a hard place.


 COMMENT 351981P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 03:16 PM

I hope that justice will be served in this case, unlike so many which are not. Probably just a slap on the wrist which will not do anything to deter further criminals from coming to. Santa Barbara and setting up shop. These people were coming all the way from Van Mugs for crying out loud!


 COMMENT 352017P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 06:37 PM

I HATE people who do this to us law-abiding regular folk. I just hate that they are OK with sneaking around in the dark and taking stuff that does not belong to them to sell for a stupid, useless, selfish drug habit. I wish the punishment was much worse. I don't have room in my world for disrespectful jerks like this. The rest of us work our tails off for low pay, take care of kids, and just try to get by. But jokers lurk around stealing from us. Hate it.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 08:33 PM

Damn really wanted one of those for my tricycle!


 COMMENT 352071P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 11:15 PM

Catalytic Converter Thieves Arrested I sure hope they can link them with all the other catalytic Converters that were stolen in our county.Ship Them Home! One Way Tickets Its cheaper than housing them in jail!


 COMMENT 352073P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-09 11:17 PM

Rather than speculate about their punishment now, I hope that we get a follow-up report once they actually are sentenced. Then we can debate whether it was reasonable or not.


 WAHINE agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-10 06:46 AM

Thank you to the CHP and police for doing an efficient job of getting these guys. Ironic that one of the arresting officers' name is Crooks.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-10 07:39 AM

Can't believe how the "know nothings" like to make comments about anyone hispanic looking; "back to Mexico", "food stamps", etc. While the scum theives deserve a harsh sentence, who knows their background. I know similar looking people descended from the founding soldiers of Santa Barbara, 7th or 8th generation; they don't collect food stamps. Being judgemental about backgrounds of anyone with brown skin must make some posters feel elite; perhaps they should go back where they, or their ancestors, came from.


 COMMENT 352132P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-10 08:09 AM



 BECKY agree helpful negative off topic

2012-12-10 11:50 AM

017P -- Amen. Ditto. I'd guess 90% of us feel exactly the same way.


71% of comments on this page were made by Edhat Community Members.


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