ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A burglar struck, but he didn’t take a big screen TV or expensive jewelry.
Instead, the thief stole an Iraq war veteran’s memorabilia.
Jose Mondragon was on the job with the Albuquerque Fire Department Wednesday when, he later learned, someone else was at his home.
“I came into the house, noticed there was glass all over the floor,” Mondragon said. “I was hoping it was from the weather, maybe something had knocked the chair into my window.”
Just a couple days after Memorial Day, Mondragon said, a burglar stole challenge coins from his time with the Marine Corps.
“People who gave them to me meant a lot to me and those were my memories they took from my time serving with the Marine Corps,” Mondragon said.
The suspect broke the glass and walked in through the back door. Mondragon said police took pictures and samples from blood left on the door to find the culprit but, mostly, Mondragon and his family want the memorabilia returned.
“Somehow, if somebody has a heart to return them, that they should because there is no meaning for anyone else except for him,” said Catherine Mondragon, Jose’s mother.
The coins are only worth $2 or $3, but Mondragon got them while serving in Iraq and Korea, some even given as mementos from his higher-ups.
He said, for him, they are priceless.
They are irreplaceable.
“It has a special meaning attached to it,” he said. “If I were to order something on eBay and be like, send me this coin, then it’s just another coin. I can find a penny on the street for the same value.”
Mondragon served with the Marine Corps from 2005 to 2010.
The burglar also stole a laptop, a handgun and a corrections officer duty belt with two sets of handcuffs, a leftover from Mondragon’s time as a jail guard.