A California homeowner recently gave an illegal immigrant burglary suspect a major pummeling after returning home to find the thief and at least one partner rummaging through his home.
Sal Mercado pulled into the driveway of his Oak Park home on April 1 to find a car parked out front and two burglars inside his home — and that’s when his fight-or-flight instincts kicked in. For Mercado, it was clearly the former.
The homeowner rushed inside, where he confronted one suspect and allegedly delivered a staggering blow before the suspect got up and fled the area, being driven away in a getaway car.
“He starts to go through the side of me to get out of the house, but I went BAM with the right cross, and he went down onto the grass of the front yard, picked himself up, and ran to the car,” Mercado recalled in an interview with KABC-TV after the harrowing incident.
A second suspect, later identified as Alexis Provoste Aranguiz, wasn’t so fortunate. Mercado confronted him as he came down the stairs, his hands filled with jewelry and electronics. According to KTTV-TV, Mercado handed him a “major beat down” before deputies arrived on the scene.
“He came at me … I didn’t know if he had weapons before anything could happen,” the homeowner said. “I just went BAM with the right, BAM with the left … I went Mike Tyson on him. He stumbled then he fell on the grass coming out of the house.”
As Mercado detained Aranguiz, he reportedly shouted for neighbors to call the police. But then, suddenly, the suspect broke free and started to run away — so Mercado went after him again.
“I tackled him and shoved him into the bushes on the side of my house again,” he recounted. “The way I tackled him … grabbing his arms, pulling them back, pin them on the back, and then put my full weight on his head, but he was all bloody and my whole arms were bloody.”
Shortly after, police arrived at the home and arrested the suspect.
Aranguiz, 43, of Chile, now faces charges of felony first-degree residential burglary and felony conspiracy, according to KTLA-TV. He is currently being held on a $150,000 bond.
Investigators said he is a suspected member of a South American theft gang. In recent years, thieves from South America have traveled up to California in cohorts for the purpose of burglarizing homes. Authorities have dubbed the practice “crime tourism.”
Just last month, four such gang members were arrested in Camarillo, KABC noted.
The other suspected burglars, including the driver of the getaway vehicle, reportedly remain at large.
Mercado said he is just “very fortunate and blessed” that the burglars weren’t armed with any weapons. But he noted that, regardless of the circumstances, his reaction probably would have been the same.
“I just didn’t give him a chance, just hit him, because first of all, I don’t know if he has a gun, a knife, any kind of weapon, right? You just don’t know. Your mind goes crazy,” he told KTLA.
In a statement to the public, the Ventura County sheriff’s office said, “We ask our residents to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement. My office will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to charge and prosecute South American Theft Groups and crews that target residential communities.”
Suspected members of South American theft group confronted by homeowner in SoCal l ABC7