San Luis Obispo police arrest alleged catalytic converter thieves

May 28, 2021


After being tipped off by alert residents Monday night, San Luis Obispo police officers caught a pair of thieves from Merced with eight stolen catalytic converters.

Residents on Devaul Ranch Road reported hearing strange noises near their Honda Priuses. Residents also observed two males leaving the area in a silver Prius, according to the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

Officers arrived in the area, but did not find the suspects’ car. Shortly afterwards, an officer spotted a silver Prius near Marsh and Higuera streets and stopped it.

When the officer contacted the suspects, he found eight catalytic converters and a jack and tools used to steal the converters, according to police.

Officers arrested the suspects, Vue Xiong, 30, and Gary Holley Lee, 26, on charges of grand theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of burglary tools, vehicle tampering and drug charges.

Police booked Xiong and Lee in San Luis Obispo County Jail. Neither of the suspects currently remain in custody, according to the county sheriff’s office website.

On Wednesday, police returned several of the catalytic converters to the owners of the Priuses from which Xiong and Lee allegedly stole them. Officers thanked the residents who were quick to report suspicious activity that they heard and saw.

Previously, in February, officers caught three thieves from Northern California as they were stealing catalytic converters in San Luis Obispo. The thieves admitted to stealing two catalytic converters each in SLO and in Monterey County, according to police.

In late March, officers said there had already been 73 catalytic converter thefts in San Luis Obispo this year. Priuses have been common a common target for the catalytic converter thieves.


I guess their stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits aren’t enough so they have been forced to commit crimes. Maybe congress should look at tripling the benefits and extending them indefinitely to keep our Prius’ safe.


This article does not say what if any bail was set, just that they are no longer in custody. These are career criminals that will simply go on to commit more felonies. It is true that this is not a violent crime but the untold hardship criminals like this cause is never really talked about. My 21 year old daughter had the catalytic converter from her Prius stolen 2 months ago. Her insurance paid for all but the deductible, but $500.00 for a college student is a lot of money. Plus another $350.00 to get something installed to prevent further theft and purchasing a RING system for security in the future. Because there have been so many thefts of catalytic converters recently, it took 3 weeks to get a new one installed. During that time she was without a car. All this during the last few weeks of the semester as students are preparing for finals caused her so much added anxiety and stress. Of course we reported it but these crimes are so common and so difficult to solve. Thanks to the residents who reported this crime and the LE who arrested them. Big thumbs down to the low and no bail laws that let these men back out on the street almost immediately to perpetrate these crimes on more innocent victims. Their crimes may not be physically violent but they can be psychologically, mentally and emotionally traumatizing. Yet these sociopathic criminals know they will get a slap (light tap) on the wrist and be once again free to continue to commit their harmful crimes. Our laws do nothing to deter criminals nor do they offer any rehabilitation. They need to be locked up and know they will do hard time or they will continue to do what they do.


One guy was just arrested last night in Orcutt, same crime, the other guy was arrested in Carpinteria on Sunday morning, same crime!! My son and about 10 others, all had catalytic converters stolon on Saturday night. It appears he might be out of jail already!


“Honda Priuses”…lol


Oh oh. Alert the Tribune. Finally some anti Asian “hate crime” for their divisive planned series. They were just trying to make a living and the police arrested them because of their race.


Both are out of custody to return to stealing converters, thanks Governor Newsom, you asked “What the hell is wrong with us”, sorry to break it to you but it’s not us its YOU, What do you expect with the policies you have enacted.


Care to elaborate why Newsom is to blame for these two criminals? I am curious.


He is responsible for them being back on the street within a day or two for starters.


A quick internet search shows a July 2020 article about these two felons being caught w/guns & ammo during a probation check. (See Merced Sun Star)

When *convicted felons* are “caught and released” they just go out and commit more crimes. One political party promotes such lenient policies. Newsom belongs to that party.