AUSTIN - An Austin couple's house was broken into and their stolen belongings were discovered by police less than 24 hours later.
On Dec. 21, the Garcia’s called 911 after realizing someone had broken into their northeast Austin home and stolen four guitars, along with a big-screen TV and a book signed by Bob Dylan.
"It's crushing. It is kind of crushing,” said Donya Garcia, after learning about the burglary.
On Dec. 22, one day after reporting the missing goods, they got a call from detectives that police had tracked down their stolen items.
"They found them. Fast!" said Garcia. "I was stunned."
Sergeant Jim Kettleman with APD's burglary unit said they often use social media like OfferUp, Nextdoor and Facebook to track down stolen goods. In this case, they already had a lead on the suspect from other break-ins in the neighborhood.
"We were already working this individual. We had some reasons to be looking at him at the time, and then through social media we realized he had stuff up for sale that had just been stolen,” said Kettleman.
According to the arrest affidavit, the suspect sent a photo showing the stolen guitars not realizing it was an undercover detective.
He said it’s easier for them to track down items that are more personalized than general electronics.
"When items are more specific it's a little bit easier. Some type of custom property, like in this case, several guitars that were very identifiable," Kettleman said.
The Garcia’s got three of their four guitars back, their big-screen TV and the book signed by Bob Dylan.
The only item police have not been able to locate is an old guitar once owned by Garcia’s father. It was a priceless possession to her, since her father passed away decades ago.
"A very old Gibson guitar, Gibson acoustic. That was my father's, he got it before WWII. That was it, that was my dad's guitar and it's gone,” Garcia said.
Unfortunately, she didn't have a picture of her dad's guitar to share but detectives told her they'll ask the suspect who was arrested this week.
21-year-old Roberto Mondragon was arrested and charged with burglary of a habitation, a second-degree felony.
Overall, APD statistics show residential burglaries have declined over the past 10 years. Kettleman said they take burglaries very seriously and work hard to track down thieves and stolen items.
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