Hooded sweatshirts and bandannas are a common thread in a series of recent robberies in Santa Fe.
According to Santa Fe police records, 24 robberies have been reported in the city since Oct. 1. Seventeen of those occurred at businesses. In the other seven cases, individuals said their belongings were forcibly stolen by one or more people.
Capt. Aric Wheeler said police have named suspects in about half the recent cases, which have a caused a spike in the city’s robbery rate.
Robert Romero, 24, has been charged in connection with two robberies in the city in the past month. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also has charged him with two robberies. Wheeler said police now suspect Romero in five other robberies. Police say he might have robbed three convenience stores in the span of two days while on electronic monitoring. He had been released from jail following a previous robbery charge, in which he allegedly used a toy gun to steal painkillers.
Arturo Lujan, 32, was arrested Nov. 1 after allegedly using a BB gun replica to steal an Oldsmobile Ciera from a man at the Evergreen Apartments, 2020 Calle Lorca. Wheeler said investigators have linked Lujan to two other robberies since Oct. 1.
The most recent robbery, on Nov. 13, involved two men who threatened a clerk at Ross Dress For Less, 3525 Zafarano Drive, with a concealed gun. Neither made away with any money. The suspects in the case, Gonzalo Villa, 27, and Erick Jordan, 29, each was charged with attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and tampering with evidence.
Wheeler said Villa and Jordan are suspected in three other robberies — one at the Subway, 4350 Airport Road, on Nov. 11; another at Latinos Unidos grocery Store, 2820 Alamosa Drive, on Nov. 10; and another at a south-side Dollar-Mart, on Oct. 25.
In these reports, and in others, the suspect or suspects wore hooded sweatshirts and white or red bandannas over their faces. The clothing and disguises of the suspects, and surveillance camera footage, have helped investigators identify the suspects, Wheeler said.
In the case of Romero, police have been able to link him to other robberies because of the GPS monitor on his ankle. “He was easy enough to track,” Wheeler said.
Investigators believe suspects already in custody might be linked to other robberies, Wheeler said.
The spike in robberies comes at a time when the city is in the middle of a full-force effort to curb residential burglaries. And although numbers have declined on the burglary front (down 59 percent this October compared to October 2011), there has been a rise in auto burglaries as well as a rise in robberies.
Wheeler blames many of these crimes on drugs. “These are crimes of desperation,” he said, “and it goes to show how much damage just a select few can do.”
Nobody has been hurt in any of the robberies, Wheeler said, because clerks and victims have simply given the robber what he asks for.
“The money that’s usually in the cash register is not worth anyone’s life,” Wheeler said. “If the desperation is that severe, who knows what they’ll do to accomplish the crime. It’s never worth trying to find out.”
Contact Nico Roesler at 986-3089 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nicoroesler.