An alert off-duty CHP officer in Santa Barbara County is being crediting with helping to break up a car parts theft ring.
Just before 3 a.m. Saturday, the officer noticed a suspicious vehicle with men inside parked in his North Santa Barbara neighborhood. The officer called the CHP to send some patrol units to the neighborhood, and when they arrived, the vehicle tried to flee. After a short chase, they stopped the vehicle on the 200 block of Lee Drive.
They arrested Herbert Hernandez, Jesus Alberto Ortiz, and Angel Aguilera for grand theft, attempted grand theft, and conspiracy to commit grand theft. Investigators say the three Van Nuys men operated a catalytic converter theft ring. The air pollution control devices are expensive, and have a high value on the black market.