South American theft-ring member convicted in Ventura County burglary that was foiled by homeowner

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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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A Ventura County man refused to become a victim when two burglars broke into his Oak Park home last week, and he said he'd do it again.

OAK PARK, Calif. (KABC) -- A Chilean man believed to be part of a South American theft ring has been convicted of participating in a Ventura County burglary that was foiled by the homeowner.

Homeowner Sal Mercado told Eyewitness News previously how he came home to find several burglars on his property on April 1. He described fighting with one man, who got away, but then managing to detain one of the other burglars after landing a few solid punches.

"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 I hold him down until the cops get here, because our government is not doing enough to fight crime,'" Mercado said in the earlier interview. "My mentality was, 'Don't let this guy escape.'"

On Tuesday, Ventura County District Attorney said the accomplice who had gotten away that day was later arrested and is now facing prison time.

Franco Antonio Vasquez Soto, 21, of Chile, was sentenced to two years for first-degree residential burglary and conspiracy.

His two alleged accomplices that day have been identified as Alexis Provoste Aranguiz, 43, and Oscar Andres Salazar Perez, 24, both of Chile.

Aranguiz was the suspect detained by the homeowner that day and his mug shot displays the bruises he received in the confrontation with Mercado.

Both Aranguiz and Perez are still awaiting trial.

The video in the media player above is from a previous story.

The three men are believed to be part of a South American theft ring that engages in what has been nicknamed "crime tourism." Police have noticed an increasing trend of burglars coming from South America to hit California homes.

'Crime tourism' bringing burglary crews from South America to affluent California communities