Footprints lead to stolen property, burglars

SANTA FE (KRQE) – A group of suspected crooks thought they were being sneaky when they broke into a home, but their plan was foiled by what they left behind.

When Tony Maestas and his brother came home Tuesday night, they noticed his house near Espanola had been burglarized. But the suspects left something behind.

“My brother and I started tracking them down and we did find his five guitars up there by a tree,” Maestas said.

Three sets of footprints in the dirt led them to the stolen guitars.

Maestas called the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department and in the dark deputies followed the tracks.

“Going up and down the hills because they went through arroyos, they were hiding up there,” Maestas said.

After nearly two hours, the long trail led deputies to a home where detectives say 20-year-old Avigael Munoz and two 17-year-old boys fessed up.

“They did after an interview admit to breaking into the residence and advised the officers that they were going to use the property, they were going to sell it to pay off some traffic citations,” Maj. Ken Johnson said.

Deputies say their shoes also matched the prints on the trail.

Munoz told them he would just gotten pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt so the plan was to resolve a crime with another crime, by selling the stolen jewelry, knife and music equipment to pay off the citations.

“That’s a poor excuse having a situation like that,” Maestas said.

Maestas says he’s happy deputies kept at it and is happy the weather was on his brother’s side.

“I thought it was, we were very lucky because it did get a little windy earlier, and thank god that it didn’t cover the tracks,” Maestas said.

Even though the path they took was long, the suspects’ home was right down the paved road from the victim’s house.

Maestas says he’s warned other neighbors to be on the lookout and lock up their belongings.

The suspects said they used a tire iron to pry the back door open.

Some of the guitars were damaged.

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