A wave of “smash-and-grab” crimes is plaguing upscale stores in major US cities, with mobs of thieves making off with expensive goods in brazen, nighttime raids.
Many of the store thieves wear masks or hoods, making them difficult to identify even when they’re spotted on security cameras.
Police in Los Angeles and San Francisco have made some arrests, but thieves often face few consequences.
One reason for this is law enforcement’s lack of resources, which means theft cases sometimes are put on the back burner. And, the “defund the police” movement has sapped some officers’ morale.
“There’s no political will to prosecute the people in this climate. Why should a police officer waste time getting into an altercation when the person is not going to jail because it’s overcrowded and a prosecutor is not going to prosecute that case because it’s not high on the priority list?”
Well in Ventura County, things are different.
Case in point: Here is what Alexis Provoste, an alleged member of a South American burglary ring, looked like after Ventura County resident Sal Mercado caught him in the act.
Local journalist John Loesing with the Acorn was the first to interview Mercado about what happened.
Odd, Mercado thought, and as he went to his front door he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“A lot of things race through your mind,” said Mercado, who, as he opened the door, met one of the thieves hustling to get out.
“I just bopped him in the face as he went out. I hit him again and he took off.”
A second man followed the first, but he wasn’t as lucky in his decision to go toe-to-toe with the fit resident who works out regularly at a local gym.
“I saw the second man coming down the stairs. Did he have a gun, a knife?” Mercado said.
Mercado told Loesing he believed the man in the SUV was communicating with the two men in the house via radio, and that the two men were trying to get out of there before being caught. When they came face-to-face with Mercado, they quickly realized they’d chosen the wrong home. In an interview with the local ABC affiliate, Mercado described what happened next:
“I just went, again, with the left, BAM, with the right, BAM.”
ABC reporter Leo Stallworth asked, “So you went Mike Tyson on him?”
“Yeah, I went Mike Tyson on him, right then and there. He stumbled, went at him again, then fell on the grass as he — or he stumbled coming out of the house.”
Mercado tackled Provoste, keeping him from getting back to the SUV. The driver and the first suspect then took off, and Mercado screamed for his neighbors to call 911. Provoste then managed to get up, but that was a mistake.
“I just tackled him and shoved him into the bushes on the side of my house, because he was all bloodied, and my whole arms were bloodied.”
The thieves weren’t going to leave without some kind of reward, though, and perhaps that’s what slowed them down enough to keep them from fully getting away. From the Acorn:
During the melee a stolen computer and an expensive camera with extra lenses fell to the ground and were recovered, said Mercado’s wife, Denise. But it’s believed the two men who got away still held valuable jewelry.
“We are all very terrified of the situation,” Denise Mercado said. “They were very brazen to come on a Friday night.
“I’ve lived here for 30 years and there’s never been anything like this,” she said.
Mercado told ABC 7 that even after reflection he’d do it again.
“I’d do it again. The thought was, ‘I got this guy. I’m going to catch him. I want to make sure he gets prosecuted. I want to make sure that I hold him down until the cops get here, because our government is not doing enough to fight crime. So my mentality was, ‘Don’t let this guy escape.’ I was fortunate that there were no weapons.”
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