JEMEZ SPRINGS, N.M. (KRQE) – Over the past several months, police say there have been at least three dozen burglaries in Jemez Springs. In the village of just about 250 people, that’s a scary surge.
“I don’t feel safe anymore. I just worry about how safe I can make it because they seem to not care,” said a Jemez Springs homeowner who did not want to reveal her identity, out of fear of retaliation.
That particular homeowner says the burglars stole about $6,000 worth of electronics, jewelry and guns from her home.
“The items that they took that were sentimental. The jewelry box that they took was something that my dad had given me and he’s been gone 16 years. It had rings that were gifts from my kids. Gone,” she said.
Another homeowner we spoke with, who also did not want to reveal her identity, said the same things were stolen from her house. However, her story is especially hard to stomach.
She told KRQE News 13, the burglars broke into her home while she was burying her husband. They stole her wedding ring, along with other jewelry and electronics.
Jemez Springs Police Chief Felix Nunez says they know who this group of people are. He says it’s an “organized” group of “serial burglars.”
Currently, one suspect, Nehemiah Hillhouse is in custody. Police say Nahum Hillhouse and Reuben Lee Garcia are also wanted.
Chief Nunez says they’re hard to catch because of where they’re hiding out.
“They use the hills. They build perches on top of them, watching the valley, watching when people are leaving…who does that?” said Nunez.
Nunez says they use the intel gathered at their perches up in the hills to hit the same homes again and again.
“They are breaking into these individuals consistently. Three or four times. One house has been five times six times broken into,” said Nunez.
On some of those break-ins, nothing was taken from the home. While that may sound good, Nunez says it’s an intimidation strategy.
“They’re doing this as intimidation just walking in and saying, ‘I can be in your home when I want to be in your home.’ In one case, they would move her sunglasses from one counter to the right counter. They would drink her milk and leave it empty in the container in the fridge,” said Nunez.
Nunez says they hope to put all suspects behind bars soon.
KRQE News 13 asked Chief Nunez why law enforcement isn’t going up into the hills looking for the suspects. Chief Nunez said the suspects have stolen so many firearms that they don’t know “the kind of imminent danger” officers would be in if they went into the hills searching.
Residents hope the suspects surface soon and are apprehended by police before something worse happens.
“Somebody may end up killing one of them. I’m sorry, but the anger is there. I’m sorry, but if he was approaching me and I would’ve felt threatened and scared, I probably would’ve shot him. In fact, I know I would’ve shot him,” said the homeowner.
If you have any information about the suspects, you’re asked to call the Jemez Springs Police Department at 575-829-3345.