Band students chase down suspect for stealing cell phones, cash

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Police say a man with a long criminal history met his match when he stole cell phones and money from band members at Highland High School.

Michael Chavarria thought he got away clean, but soon realized he was being chased by the same kids he had stolen from.

The incident was not Chavarria’s first run in with the law — he has a long history of crime in California and Texas dating all the way back to 1997.

This time around, he stooped to a whole new low with his choice of victims.

While the Highland High Band was outside practicing Thursday, police say Chavarria snuck into the school and stole nine cell phones and $200 from band members.

Those students weren’t going to let him get away that easily.

According to the criminal complaint, several band members followed Chavarilla to the parking lot of the San Pedro Library.

“He just messed with the wrong kids,” said Theresa Cordova, a booster and a mother to one of the kids whose stuff was stolen.

That’s where he pulled two knives on the students and hit a female student with his elbow. He even threw a knife at a band member while running away. Police caught Chavarria soon after.

“You mess with the Highland Band kids and you have a lot of parents that are always behind our kids. We’ll take care of them and that’s exactly what we did,” said Cordova.

Just about everything stolen was returned to the band members and the boosters gave the students whatever money was spent by Chavarilla.

Chavarria has been released from jail under strict orders to stay off school property. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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