SANTA FE (KRQE) – Detectives said it may be a first in Santa Fe County that victims of a burglary helped solve their case after accidentally taking a picture of the suspected thief’s car.
Santa Fe Sheriff’s County Lt. William Pacheco said the weekend before Valentine’s Day, deputies responded to three calls in two days that someone was smashing in car windows and ripping people off.
“They were looking for purses, backpacks,” Pacheco said. “Credit cards and money.”
Two cars were broken into at a hiking trail near the ski basin. One victim described the suspect as a man in a white car.
Just a day earlier, a woman’s SUV was broken into at the Shidoni Art Gallery, near Santa Fe. A worker gave the same description to the deputies. The victims told detectives they had been outside taking pictures on their cellphone.
Pacheco said one picture would break this case wide open.
“It seems like this was more of a photo of opportunity,” Pacheco said. “The photo was taken based on the fact that they were taking pictures near this artwork and they didn’t know that they were actually capturing the suspect’s vehicle in the background.”
After detectives took a closer look, they saw a car matching the description in all three car break-ins.
“We actually see the white vehicle parked next to their explorer,” Pacheco said.
Deputies sent the picture of the car to other departments. Pacheco said a Santa Fe Police detective recognized the car from a shoplifting case.
That led detectives to Richard Salazar, 26. Detectives said the victims identified Salazar as the burglar then deputies made an arrest.
Deputies said had Salazar parked his car somewhere else, it could have been a lot tougher solving this case.
Pacheco said he’s never seen a case solved like this in his 15 years with the department.
Salazar is charged with burglary and damage to property.