Suspects arrested, charged with breaking into Water King and theft

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Belen police arrested two suspects in connection with a burglary where $2,000 and a company credit card was stolen from the Water King on Main Street on July 21.

Belen police arrested two suspects in connection with a burglary where $2,000 and a company credit card was stolen from the Water King on Main Street on July 21.

About 4:50 p.m., police said one of the store's employees, Jonathan Garcia, 19, of Belen, used his store-issued key to enter the business with another individual to open the safe with a combination.

Belen Police Detective Martin Benavidez said Garcia and another man took a combination of money, checks and rolled coins from a security safe in the store. The officer said the man used the combination to open the safe and later disposed of the top portion of the safe.

Benavidez said the man's friend, Randy Romero, 38, of Albuquerque, took the credit card belonging to Water King and said he was going "to get rid" of the card after he brought the items from the store to a residence on 12th Street in Belen.

Instead, Romero's girlfriend, Joelle Vigil, told police he took the card and used it to buy fuel on two occasions at the Giant gas station on July 22.

The purchases totaled $100, according to a police report.

The report said Vigil told police she made another two purchases with the card at Walmart in Belen on the same day.

Those purchases totaled about $450. Benavidez said Vigil is not charged with a crime because she told officers she believed the credit card belonged to Romero. He also said Vigil promised to testify against the accused and is cooperating with the investigation.

Garcia was arrested and charged on one count of burglary, one count of conspiracy, theft of a credit card and tampering with evidence.

Romero was arrested and charged with one count of theft of a credit card, two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, conspiracy and tampering with evidence.

The other suspect, who hasn't yet been arrested, will be charged with one count of theft of a credit card, one count of burglary, one count of conspiracy and one count of tampering with evidence. His name was not released.

Benavidez said officers were able to identify the suspects via a surveillance camera from Walmart. Police found a vehicle that matched the description of the gold GMC truck at a residence near Chavez Avenue and 13th Street on July 24.

According to the police report, Garcia told police "the money was mostly gone" and that they used the money to buy drugs.

Cindy Lu Cowan, manager at the Water King, said the incident was "extremely surprising," and that Garcia had worked at the business for more than a year. She said he was dependable and good at his job.

"It's very out of character for him," Cowan said. "He has always seemed like a really good kid."

Cowan said management plans to limit the amount of people who have a the combination to the safe. She said management has had to use an extra face plate since the original one was taken from the store.

The manager said she was pleased with the police department's help.

"I'm amazed at how fast they tracked everything down," Cowan said.

Garcia is being held at the Valencia County Detention Center on a $30,000 cash-only bond.

Romero is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque on a $30,000 cash-only bond for the theft charges, and a $200 cash-only bond for failing to appear on an unrelated case.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.