Los Angeles Residents Arrested for Goleta Catalytic Converter Thefts

Los Angeles Residents Arrested for Goleta Catalytic Converter Thefts  title=
Los Angeles Residents Arrested for Goleta Catalytic Converter Thefts
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By the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

Sheriff’s deputies arrested two suspects for theft of catalytic converters and have recovered six stolen converters.

On Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at approximately 3:40 a.m., deputies responded to the area of Dearborn Place and Armitos Avenue for a reported theft of a catalytic converter that had just occurred. The reporting party provided a suspect vehicle description. Approximately 7 minutes later, deputies spotted a similar vehicle on Highway 101, southbound and conducted a traffic enforcement stop near the Las Positas offramp.

During the traffic stop, deputies found a total of six stolen catalytic converters in the vehicle along with a car jack and several electric saws. Deputies arrested both occupants of the vehicle, 29-year-old Francisco Puente from the Los Angeles area and 37-year-old Francisco Javier Trujillo Gaona from Culver City.

Both suspects have been booked at the Santa Barbara Main Jail for six counts of grand theft (felony), six counts of conspiracy (felony), six counts of vehicle tampering (misdemeanor), possession of burglary tools (misdemeanor) and are being held on an enhanced bail of $500,000. Puente was booked on the additional charges of possession of a controlled substance (misdemeanor), and possession of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanor).

The Sheriff’s Office would like to acknowledge the quick thinking of the reporting party who called 911 when they realized they were likely hearing a catalytic converter theft. The theft of catalytic converters is popular because they can be easily removed, they do not have identifying marks like serial numbers, and the components are made up of precious metals that can be resold to recyclers.

There are steps that can be taken to thwart these thefts including parking inside a garage or secured yard, installing motion detector lights near parking areas, installing a catalytic converter protection device, and educating neighbors to be on the look-out for thieves.

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haskelslocal Oct 12, 2022 06:57 AM
Los Angeles Residents Arrested for Goleta Catalytic Converter Thefts

Excellent work by the victim and response team for getting the call out and having an officer on the ready. Keep up the good work. This type of response, along with the robust sentencing guidelines, is the deterrent we need. Trust this will get out to the community of thieves that hear SB isn't to be messed with. Not worth it.

a-1665596091 Oct 12, 2022 10:34 AM
Los Angeles Residents Arrested for Goleta Catalytic Converter Thefts

I'm not a lawyer but perhaps one can answer this question. Can the victims of the thefts sue the perps? To replace a catalytic converter can cost over $1000 that the victims are on the hook for. Can they sue the arrested (after they're convicted of course) individuals for the cost to repair their vehicles?

photodude Oct 12, 2022 11:24 AM
Los Angeles Residents Arrested for Goleta Catalytic Converter Thefts

I've never had catalytic converters stolen. Perhaps I'm protected by having engraved the vehicle VIN prominately on them using an inexpensive electrical vibrating engraver, such as this $7.99 one from Harbor Freight: https://www.harborfreight.com/electric-engraver-46099.html

Perhaps AAA, or the Sheriff's Department, or automobile repair shops could offer this engraving service for a reasonable fee. Automobile repair shops have lifts that would elevate the car to make the engraving easy.

The big problem with these thefts is lack of traceability of the sawed-off converter to a particular car.

The proposed law that catalytic converters can only be accepted for recycle from authorized repair shops, or vehicle owners, along with this engraving, should markedly reduce these thefts.

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