NM firefighter catches thief stealing gear

Miguel Rivas was getting a glass of water when he saw a man taking his turnout coat and SCBA gear from his vehicle

By Uriel J. Garcia
The Santa Fe New Mexican

SANTA FE, N.M. — When Miguel Rivas woke up before dawn Monday and went for a drink of water, he noticed a burglar taking some of his firefighter equipment from his car in the driveway. He grabbed his shotgun, ran outside with his two terrier- and pit bull-mixed dogs and held the suspect at gunpoint until police arrived, according to a police report.

“Initially, I didn’t really know what was going on because I was half asleep so I had to wake up,” Rivas, 27, a Santa Fe firefighter, said in a telephone interview. “So, I just kind of jumped into action and had my girlfriend call the police as I grabbed my jacket and my firearm. And I had my two dogs with me, too.”

An officer arrived at the residence in the 2100 block of Calle De La Vuelta, near St. Francis and St. Michael’s drives, and found Rivas pointing a black pump-action shotgun at suspect Derek Martinez, 28, of Santa Fe. Martinez was face down on the floor in a 2002 Honda Civic that he had been burglarizing, the report says.

Rivas later told police that when he woke up about 4:30 a.m., he glanced out his bedroom window, the report says. That’s when he saw a man with his firefighter jacket and oxygen mask.

“I have the firearm for home defense. So, when I saw him grab my gear I thought, ‘I need my gear for work,’ ” he said in the interview. “So, I just kind of reacted and didn’t think twice.”

Rivas said he told the burglar to put his hands up. “He was pretty compliant; I think I scared him,” he said.

Rivas said police arrived within five minutes of his girlfriend’s call. He said he’s never used his firearm for self-defense before and glad he didn’t have to fire it.

“I’m glad nobody got injured,” he said.

Police reported that they found a crack cocaine pipe on Martinez.

As of Monday night, authorities were holding Martinez in the Santa Fe County jail without bond, records show. He is facing a charge each of auto burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia.

This incident is similar to a January 2015 case in which a man fired a warning shot to scare off a would-be burglar at his Agua Fría Street home. The suspect in that case was later found guilty on a home burglary charge.

Copyright 2016 The Santa Fe New Mexican

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