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Deputies arrest catalytic converter theft suspects following pursuit

Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office
Posted at 3:36 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 18:36:56-04

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has arrested three people who are accused of stealing catalytic converters in Santa Barbara.

The sheriff's office says deputies were dispatched to the 5200-block of Rhoads Ave. on Sunday to investigate a report of possible catalytic converter thefts in progress.

While in the area, a deputy spotted a car that matched the description of suspects in previous catalytic converter thefts in the nearby area.

The sheriff's office says the deputy tried to make a traffic stop with the vehicle on the Turnpike Road southbound onramp to Hwy 101.

They say the car failed to yield and deputies initiated a pursuit southbound on Hwy 101.

Additional deputies and California Highway Patrol (CHP) assisted with the pursuit.

As they pursued the car, the occupants threw a vehicle jack out of the window.

Deputies were able to avoid the object and continued the pursuit.

Not long after, the occupants threw a catalytic converter out of the window, damaging a patrol car. This deputy had to drop out of the pursuit.

CHP continued pursuing the car into Ventura where the vehicle finally stopped.

The sheriff's office says three suspects were taken into custody. Those include one juvenile, along with 40-year-old Gustavo Pineda from Los Angeles and 41-year-old Carlos Alberto Cristales-Mendez from Commerce. The juvenile was released to a guardian.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says Pineda was booked for charges including grand theft, destruction of evidence, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy, child endangerment, evading, vandalism, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and throwing a substance from a vehicle with intent to cause great bodily injury. He is being held without bail.

Cristales-Mendez was booked for the same charges, along with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held on $600,000 bail.