By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Port Isabel Chief of Police Gualberto “Wally” Gonzalez is asking for the public’s help to solve two burglaries that occurred recently in the Derry area. “We are asking for the public to help us in this and any other burglaries, thefts or criminal activity occurring in your neighborhood,” Gonzalez said in a statement released Wednesday.
The burglaries occurred during the day and involved the theft of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. “Both of these were daytime burglaries,” Gonzalez said in an interview, adding that investigators can’t rule out the possibility the homes may have been approached from the water.
The first took place on Friday, Sept. 4 on the 600 block of 1st Street. Forty-two items were taken from a jewelry box, including a set of diamond earrings, a diamond tennis bracelet and a UT-Brownsville graduation ring. In total, the items are worth an estimated $4,000. Investigators found no signs of forced entry.
On Wednesday, Sept. 16, a home on the 1800 block of N. Shore Drive was burglarized after access was gained via a window that was broken in a rear door. Approximately $20,000 worth of jewelry was stolen from the home, including two Rolex watches, an antique Meso-American gold, jade and coral jewelry piece, an antique gold coin, an AIA architecture association pin and various other items.
The two burglaries come after a spike in similar crimes this summer. According to figures released by Gonzalez, there was one burglary in May, seven in June and an additional three by the middle of July. There were also 14 thefts of property from yards over the same period of time.
“We’ve always had thefts here and there,” Gonzalez said. “We solved one major one,” he said.
That major one involved the theft of over $10,000 worth of camera equipment and jewelry from the home of Valerie Bates in mid-July. Two men and one woman, all from the San Benito area, were charged with felony theft in connection with the case.
Bond for Jorge Garza, 45, and Leonardo Garza, 27, was set at $20,000 each, and $10,000 for Maria Martinez, 49.
The trio were arrested after investigators learned some of the stolen property had turned up in a San Benito pawn shop. Video surveillance of the three allegedly pawning the items was used to secure warrants for their arrest.
Gonzalez said burglary cases can be difficult to investigate in the absence of witnesses, though. “We have to have somebody that comes in and witnesses,” he said. He urged residents to be vigilant in their neighborhoods and report suspicious activity to the police by calling (956)943-2727, (956)943-1242 or 911.
Gonzalez hopes to foster some of that vigilance via a neighborhood watch the department will soon be starting thanks to a nod recently given by the City Commission. It will be led by officers but will also include members of the public “assisting with keeping our neighborhoods safe and clean of crime,” Gonzalez said in the statement.
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