Oak Park, CA – A burglary suspect was punched in the head and held down by an angry homeowner who allegedly found the suspect inside his residence last week.
Police said at least one of the suspects involved in the April 1 break-in at Sal Mercado’s Oak Park home is part of a so-called “crime tourist” ring from South America known as the South American Theft Group, KABC reported.
These offenders travel to California to burglarize residences, according to the news outlet.
Mercado said he returned home on April 1 to find a someone sitting inside a strange vehicle parked outside his house.
When he went inside, he said he came face-to-face with a man he didn’t know, so he punched him, KABC reported.
“He starts to go to the side of me, to get out of the house, and I went ‘bam’ with a right cross,” Mercado told the news outlet. “And he went down on the grass in the front yard. Picked himself up and ran to the car.”
The homeowner then spotted a second intruder stumbling down the stairs with his arms full of electronics and jewelry, KTLA reported.
“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?” Mercado explained. “You just don’t know. Your mind goes crazy.”
“I just went BAM with the right, BAM with the left … I went Mike Tyson on him,” he told KABC. “He stumbled then he fell on the grass coming out of the house.”
Mercado said he then tackled the suspect and stopped him from reaching the getaway car as the driver and the first burglar he encountered sped away.
The homeowner screamed for help as the suspect continued to try to scramble loose.
“I tackled him and shoved him into the bushes on the side of my house again,” Mercado told KABC. “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.”
The homeowner said he was determined not to let the intruder escape, KABC reported.
“The thought was, ‘I got this guy, I want to catch him. I want to make sure he gets prosecuted. I want to make sure to hold him down until the cops get here, because our government is not doing enough to fight crime,’” he recalled.
Ventura County sheriff’s deputies arrived and took the suspect into custody.
He was later identified as 43-year-old Alexis Provoste Aranguiz, KABC reported.
Investigators said Aranguiz suffered multiple facial fractures during the scuffle with Mercado, according to KTLA.
He has been charged with felony offenses of conspiracy and first-degree residential burglary, to which he pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, KABC reported.
Aranguiz remains in jail on $150,000 bond.
The other two suspects remain at large.
The Ventura County Sherriff’s Office (VCSO) said Aranguiz, who is from Chile, is part of a burglary ring that targets California homeowners, KTLA reported.
“They’ll typically case neighborhoods in advance and see ways they can get in and out,” VCSO Deputy Ashley Barrios noted.
Mercado said he is thankful his family wasn’t home at the time of the break-in, and that he would handle the situation the same way if he had it to do over, KABC reported.
“I’d do it again,” he said.