Four Arrests in South County Thefts

Written by Estero Bay News

February 9, 2023

Catalytic converters, power tools and burglary tools were among the suspected stolen items deputies found in a car in Nipomo.

Sheriff’s deputies busted up an apparent gaggle of suspected thieves following a suspicious vehicle report out of Nipomo.

According to Sheriff’s spokesman, Tony Cipolla, at about 7:50 a.m. on Jan. 24 deputies received a suspicious vehicle report in the 500 block of Sunnydale Dr., Nipomo. But the suspicious car was gone before they arrived.

“The vehicle,” Cipolla said, “was later located being driven southbound on Highway 101 and a traffic stop was conducted near the Tefft Street off ramp in Nipomo.”

Deputies discovered three people inside the car. “All three occupants of the vehicle,” Cipolla said, “Pedro Enriquez Bautista, Alexis Antonio Gomez, and Maritza Serena Hernandez had outstanding arrest warrants.” 

Bautista, 32, is from Santa Maria; Gomez, 25, is from Arroyo Grande; and Hernandez, 28, hails from Santa Maria, according to the news release. Deputies searched the vehicle and discovered a trove of ill-gotten spoils.

“In the vehicle,” Cipolla said, “deputies located stolen mail and packages, along with three catalytic converters, power tools and burglary tools.” The three were arrested on suspicion of grand theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, and possession of stolen property.

The investigation reportedly led deputies to a motel in Arroyo Grande where they located additional suspected stolen mail and packages, Cipolla said, as well as burglary tools. 

The occupant of that room, Duane Patrick James, Jr., 29 of Santa Barbara also had an outstanding felony arrest warrant, Cipolla said. He was also arrested for suspicion of mail theft. All four suspects were booked into County Jail for their warrants and for these additional new transgressions.

It should be noted that deputies had not received reports of catalytic converter thefts in that area, and it was an observant citizen who spotted the suspicious car and called 9-1-1.

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