Chaparral homeowners prepare to ‘stand ground’ after outbreak of burglaries
Updated: Monday, February 10 2014, 09:15 PM MST
By: Genevieve Curtis
Chaparral, N.M.-- An outbreak of home burglaries in Chaparral has the community in fear and taking matters into their own hands.
“If you break into my house, I am going to shoot you,” said Pastor Richard Plock.
Plock said the community isn’t taking any chances after a spike in home burglaries. Eighteen were reported to the Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office in just two months.
But Plock said, there are even more that have not been reported.
“People are telling me, 'I am buying a gun and I’m going to shoot them the next time they come by,' and that’s what is scary. You’ve got some old people out here that are in fear of their life, and what is the police department doing?” said Plock.
Thieves scaled Tony Mazzocchi’s fence and stole equipment out of his shed, just feet from his bedroom window.
Now, he's taking extra steps to protect his property. He added barbed wire to his fence, got a pit bull and is standing his ground.
“The neighbors are all up in arms; they’re securing themselves. We have to keep our community intact,” said Mazzocchi.
Some homeowners have been targeted two or three times.
Pastor Plock said his properties haven’t been spared he’s had at least two recent break-ins.
Burglars broke into property owned by Arnie Figueroa's father. They made off with thousands of pounds of metal, pipes and parts off of classic Volkswagens.
“He was shattered; it hurt him real bad. Any time you get violated, somebody comes into your personal property and removes your property, you are violated,” said Figueroa.
Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office leaders said they've added extra patrols to the area and are starting several other security operations, and they have ongoing investigations.
“We are sensitive to the people who live there and understand that they want to feel safe in their community, so we have increased saturated patrol operations in the areas where we are seeing increased activity of this nature,” said a spokesperson.
Community members suspect there may be other factors at work contributing to the rash of burglaries, including drugs and businesses where it’s easy to drop off stolen property.
“I hope the sheriff can understand that we need more protection. This should be No. 1 priority,” said Mazzocchi.
Many have lost property to the thieves, but most of all they say it’s their sense of security that's been taken.
“Fear is going to drive people to do crazy things,” said Plock.
Last week, Dona Ana County deputies arrested one man, Lorenzo Cano, in connection with alleged metal theft. It’s unknown whether he's tied to the recent string of burglaries.
Chaparral is split between Dona Ana County and Otero County. WhenKFOX14 contacted Otero County Sheriff Benny House last week, he didn't have numbers on how many burglaries have been reported in the area but told KFOX he would look into it.