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Local store robbed during power outage

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It’s been three months since a California Street store was robbed by unknown thieves who stole thousands of dollars worth of Native American jewelry and merchandise, but Yolanda Herrera hasn’t given up hope of getting some of it back.

Herrera owns the shop located in the former Pizza Hut, sharing the building with his son-in-law Damien Ocampo’s State Farm Insurance agency.

The September 16 entry into the Socorro police blotter was brief and direct:

An officer was called to a business in reference to a burglary. The officer arrived and met the victim’s husband, who said he was checking out his wife’s shop and when he opened the door he noticed lever marks on the door and frame. He said he did not enter the building but noticed that several jewelry boxes were open. The victim arrived soon after and was able to provide the officer with a list of all items stolen and estimated the loss at over $50,000.

This window is nearly empty in Yolanda Herrera’s jewelry store after vandals stole $60,000 worth of jewelry.
Photo by Yolanda Herrera

His loss turned out to be closer to $60,000.

“I’m so discouraged,” Herrera said. “You never think. I’ve had jewelry for years and years. You never want to think something like this will happen.

Herrera said thieves were particular about what they wanted to steal.

“They actually didn’t take everything they could get,” she said. “They kind of went shopping. They just picked the things they wanted and didn’t destroy anything or ransack the store.

When everything was factored in, Herrera estimated the total value of the stolen items at around $60,000.

“There was some gold and some diamonds – very few – but it was mostly Native American creations of turquoise and silver,” she said.

The exact time of the burglary is not known, but Herrera believes it could be linked to a power outage.

“It happened, I assume, during the scheduled two-hour blackout that night,” she said. “We have all received messages that the power will be cut from 2 to 4 a.m. We assume they took advantage of it. It was totally dark.

The burglary was first discovered when her husband, Polo, arrived at the business around 9am. “It’s always the time he goes to turn on the lights and the heating,” she said. “He found the door unlocked and open. They had kicked in the door with some kind of tool, and when he looked inside, he saw that the glass cases were practically cleaned out.

With the door damaged, the shop had not been secured between the time they broke in and nine in the morning.

Police found no fingerprints, Herrera said. “They obviously had gloves on.”

Herrera believes the incident is related to a pair of women who had browsed and looked around the store, “probably within the previous 10 days.

“I feel like they had the store locked down,” she said. “I didn’t think of it then, but they apparently knew exactly where everything was in the display cases where I keep my jewelery and another small cabinet of curiosities with other items.

“I guess that because they seemed to have gone straight to what they were watching,” she said. “Seven or eight large trays of rings, and all the large gourd blossoms with the turquoise and the silver. These can sell for between four and five thousand dollars.

“They were only interested in the expensive things and did it quickly. They picked whatever they wanted,” Herrera said. “Whole trays of rings, hundreds of rings. And several of the bracelets with the big stones.

Also missing were a few bolo ties and belts with turquoise-encrusted buckles.

“I have pictures and I’ve checked with some pawnshops in Albuquerque,” she said. “I know my stuff, I can spot it.”

Since the theft, Herrera has tightened security and installed security cameras at the scene.

“But that night the power was out everywhere, and even the nearby cameras weren’t working,” she said.


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