By Gina Yarbrough
Encinitas, CA–Three men were charged with possession of stolen catalytic converters after leading authorities on a brief pursuit from North to Orange Counties early Wednesday morning, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.
Deputies from the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station’s Crime Suppression Team observed a red Dodge Charger around 4:30 p.m. believed to have been involved in recent catalytic converter thefts in the region. They attempted to conduct a traffic stop near Encinitas Boulevard and Seeman Drive. The driver, 41-year-old Erik Rivera, failed to yield and a pursuit ensued. During the pursuit, the vehicle ran over several mailboxes on Seeman Drive and continued onto northbound Interstate 5, according to Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies followed the vehicle into San Clemente and were relieved by California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officers who continued pursuing into Orange County. CHP officers successfully deployed a tire deflation device and the vehicle stopped near Highway 73 and La Paz Road off-ramp.
Rivera and the front passenger fled from the vehicle. The passengers in the rear seats, 41-year-old Rufino Garcia and 45-year-old Francisco Perez, were detained immediately. During a search of the area, Rivera was located and arrested. Two catalytic converters and numerous tools were found in the vehicle.
Rivera, Garcia and Perez are residents of Los Angeles County. All three men will be booked into the Vista Detention Facility on numerous charges, including felony evading, possession of stolen property and possession of burglary tools.
Detectives from the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station are handling the investigation.