Deputies return stolen item to Marine veteran

VELARDE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico veteran was the victim of a recent burglary spree near Espanola. Most of the stolen stuff he could live without, but one item was truly irreplaceable.

Matt Romero said his Ka-Bar was stolen right out of his Velarde home.

“It’s just a simple knife. It’s not sharp, it’s not anything, not very valuable as far as price goes, but to me it means the world,” said Romero.

Romero also had clothing and electronics stolen, costing more than $2,000. But he said his stolen Ka-Bar was given to him by his platoon after his time in the Marines.

“It’s memories, it’s everything to me,” said Romero.

He didn’t think he’s ever get it back, but last week the Rio Arriba Sheriff’s Department arrested multiple people connected to a string of burglaries.

Romero’s Ka-Bar was in the stockpile of items they collected.

“My wife all of a sudden started crying, I felt the same,” said Romero. “I mean I was just so happy.”

The knife was returned with just a scrape. Romero said the thieves attempted to scratch off his name from the weapon.

“It held up,” said Romero. “So it still says Corporal Romero on it.”

Now the knife is back where it belongs.

“Just being able to put it back on the wall and every day I pass by it, remembering what I went through with everybody,” said Romero.

Romero said he knows it’s not common for stolen items to be returned. He said he’s thankful authorities worked hard to get his knife back to him so quickly.

Authorities said the Espanola crooks stole more than $20,000 worth of goods. They said it’s going to be a long time before every item is returned to its rightful owner.

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