Every day there are more stories out of Los Angeles about home invasion robberies and out-of-control crime, but just over the county line, in Ventura County, things are different. Crime is increasingly spilling over from Los Angeles County, but Ventura County residents and law enforcement agencies aren’t willing to sit back and allow thugs and thieves to run the show.
Case in point: Here is what Alexis Provoste, an alleged member of a South American burglary ring, looked like after Ventura County resident Sal Mercado caught him in the act.
Sal Mercado, whose Oak Park home sits within eyesight of the Los Angeles County line, returned home April 1 from a quick grocery store run and noticed an SUV parked across the street from his home, and a Hispanic man wearing a Dodgers cap sitting there.
Local journalist John Loesing with the Acorn was the first to interview Mercado about what happened.
Odd, Mercado thought, and as he went to his front door he wasn’t sure what to expect.
“A lot of things race through your mind,” said Mercado, who, as he opened the door, met one of the thieves hustling to get out.
“I just bopped him in the face as he went out. I hit him again and he took off.”
A second man followed the first, but he wasn’t as lucky in his decision to go toe-to-toe with the fit resident who works out regularly at a local gym.
“I saw the second man coming down the stairs. Did he have a gun, a knife?” Mercado said.
Mercado told Loesing he believed the man in the SUV was communicating with the two men in the house via radio, and that the two men were trying to get out of there before being caught. When they came face-to-face with Mercado, they quickly realized they’d chosen the wrong home. In an interview with the local ABC affiliate, Mercado described what happened next:
“I just went, again, with the left, BAM, with the right, BAM.”
ABC reporter Leo Stallworth asked, “So you went Mike Tyson on him?”
“Yeah, I went Mike Tyson on him, right then and there. He stumbled, went at him again, then fell on the grass as he — or he stumbled coming out of the house.”
Mercado tackled Provoste, keeping him from getting back to the SUV. The driver and the first suspect then took off, and Mercado screamed for his neighbors to call 911. Provoste then managed to get up, but that was a mistake.
“I just tackled him and shoved him into the bushes on the side of my house, because he was all bloodied, and my whole arms were bloodied.”
The thieves weren’t going to leave without some kind of reward, though, and perhaps that’s what slowed them down enough to keep them from fully getting away. From the Acorn:
During the melee a stolen computer and an expensive camera with extra lenses fell to the ground and were recovered, said Mercado’s wife, Denise. But it’s believed the two men who got away still held valuable jewelry.
“We are all very terrified of the situation,” Denise Mercado said. “They were very brazen to come on a Friday night.
“I’ve lived here for 30 years and there’s never been anything like this,” she said.
Mercado told ABC 7 that even after reflection he’d do it again.
“I’d do it again. The thought was, ‘I got this guy. I’m going to catch him. I want to make sure he gets prosecuted. I want to make sure that I hold him down until the cops get here, because our government is not doing enough to fight crime. So my mentality was, ‘Don’t let this guy escape.’ I was fortunate that there were no weapons.”
Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko, a recently-appointed progressive who, until recently, was parroting “restorative justice” talking points and the like, issued a strongly-worded press release:
Alexis Provoste Aranguiz of Chile, a suspected member of a South American Theft Group, has been charged with first-degree residential burglary and conspiracy, both felonies. A special allegation that the burglary is a violent crime was also charged due to the homeowner being in the residence at the time of the alleged offenses.
We ask our residents to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement,” said District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. “My office will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to charge and prosecute South American Theft Groups and crews that target residential communities.”
It’s likely that Nasarenko is so vocal on this issue because he’s been working with local Democrat Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin on legislation that would enhance punishment for crime rings, and that legislation has been stalled even though Gov. Gavin Newsom’s been moaning that more needs to be done to curb the problem. All three Democrats are up for election this November, and both Nasarenko and Irwin are vulnerable – Irwin in particular due to redistricting, and Nasarenko because Ventura County residents, who are traditionally on the more conservative side, are very interested in not seeing a George Gascon type of District Attorney in their county. In this specific instance, Nasarenko would do well to ignore California’s SB 54 and turn Provoste over to federal immigration authorities after conviction.
As far as the Mercados, they would probably like to just be able to have a quiet dinner on a Friday night without fear that they’re coming home to find thieves in their home.
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