A California homeowner who showed up at the right time managed to stop a burglary at his home and helped police arrest one man officials say is part of a group committing crimes across the region.
On April 1, a resident of Oak Park in Ventura County came home at about 6:30 p.m. to find an SUV idling in front of his house and burglars within.
One burglar got away, despite being struck by the resident, but the second did not, according to a news release from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.
“There was a physical confrontation, and the homeowner basically held down the suspect until the police showed up,” Capt. Cameron Henderson of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The other burglar and driver fled in the SUV, the release said.
A search of the man who was held by the homeowner showed that the man had stolen property on him, the release said.
“Crime tourism:” Man roughs up Chilean burglars found in his home. The criminal tourists coming to SoCal to steal. Now on ABC7 https://t.co/uhtrZWkuum
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) April 6, 2022
Alexis Provoste Aranguiz, 43, of Chile, was charged with first-degree residential burglary and conspiracy, both felonies. The charges include a special allegation of being a violent crime because the homeowner was present.
Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said Aranguiz is a suspected member of a South American theft group.
Henderson said the groups are a form of what he called “organized crime.”
“It’s been pretty prevalent for a couple of years,” he said. “We’re seeing these types of theft groups come from out of the country and commit these types of burglaries, and then they’re flown out.”
Police say South American Theft Groups (SATG) often enter the U.S. legally, commit rash of burglaries then rotate members out of the country in a matter of weeks. https://t.co/vSSraaCjX2
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 14, 2022
Sgt. Greg Gibson of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said his county alone had more than 100 similar crimes from “South American theft groups” in 2021.
He said suspects enter the U.S. on 90-day tourist visas and commit nonviolent property crimes, such as burglary or credit card theft, and then leave the country.
Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brandon Ross said homes that back up to open spaces, such as golf courses or open land, are often targets because they can be watched.
Aranguiz is currently in jail with bail set at $150,000.
“We ask our residents to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement,” Nasarenko said. “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.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.