Two days after their arrest Sunday, two suspected catalytic converter thieves entered not guilty pleas at their arraignment Tuesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
The defendants, Bryan Arciniega and Nathaniel Santiago Reyes, are each charged in a four-count felony complaint with conspiracy to commit a crime, in that they allegedly conspired to commit the crime of grand theft of personal property.
Prosecutors allege they collected gloves, a hydraulic jack and multiple reciprocating saws with metal blades, drove to the Santa Ynez Valley, identified victim vehicles and used tools to access catalytic converters.
The pair also are charged with receiving stolen property with a value exceeding $950, i.e. the stolen catalytic converters.
Mr. Arciniega was charged with bringing or sending drugs into the Main Jail in Santa Barbara.
He allegedly brought or sent into the jail a controlled substance and a means of injecting or consuming it, or assisted in doing so.
And Mr. Reyes was charged with evading an officer, in that he “did willfully and unlawfully elude a pursuing peace officer by willfully driving on a highway in a direction opposite to that in which traffic lawfully moves.”
The complaint notes that Mr. Reyes has two prior felony offenses, and Mr. Arciniega has six prior felony offenses, all stemming from crimes committed in Los Angeles County.
They are due back in court in Lompoc on March 15 to confirm a date for a preliminary hearing, now tentatively set for March 16.
Sheriff’s deputies, along with a Sheriff’s K-9 unit and California Highway Patrol, arrested the pair following a long police chase.
At 4:58 a.m. Sunday, deputies responded to the 500 block of Sertoma Way in Buellton for a report of thefts of catalytic converters in progress.
While they were on their way, a sheriff’s dispatch relayed that the suspects were seen fleeing the area in a Fiat. Deputies spotted a vehicle matching that description near McDonald’s in Buellton.
When deputies attempted to stop the vehicle, the suspects fled, and the driver entered the opposing lanes of traffic, driving southbound in the northbound lanes of Highway 101, the sheriff’s office said.
In the interest of public safety, deputies discontinued their pursuit of the vehicle and shared the suspect and vehicle description with CHP, who located the vehicle further south on the 101, in the southbound lanes.
CHP attempted to stop the vehicle, and the driver again entered the opposing lanes and the pursuit was terminated, officials said. CHP set up a spike strip on Highway 101 near Las Varas Canyon, where officers successfully disabled the vehicle that was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes.
After a short foot pursuit, the first suspect — Mr. Santiago-Reyes, 27, of El Monte — was taken into custody at 5:28 a.m.
The second suspect, Mr. Arciniega, 32, of Los Angeles, was successfully tracked by a sheriff’s K9 unit to his hiding place in a palm tree and apprehended at 6:30 a.m.
Deputies recovered two stolen catalytic converters from the suspects’ vehicle. Deputies have identified the vehicles that they were stolen from and are not looking for any additional victims associated with this incident.
Mr. Reyes was booked at the Main Jail for vandalism (felony), attempt to commit grand theft (felony), possession of burglary tools (felony), possession of stolen property (felony), conspiracy (felony), obstructing a peace officer (misdemeanor) and possession of a controlled substance. He is being held on an increased bail of $75,000.
Mr. Arciniega was booked at the Main Jail for reckless evasion (felony), reckless driving (misdemeanor), vandalism (felony), attempt to commit grand theft (felony), possession of burglary tools (felony), possession of stolen property (felony), conspiracy (felony) and obstructing a peace officer (misdemeanor). He is being held on an enhanced bail of $150,000.