Cecelia Gutierrez and her husband had been gone only a few minutes, on their way to church one day last month, when a neighbor phoned, saying someone had broken into their West Side home.
“He got in through a side window,” she said about the May 19 break-in. “My neighbor could see him there with a hammer. That’s what he used to break the window.”
The neighbor quickly sprang into action, standing guard outside Gutierrez’s home and temporarily trapping the burglar inside.
“What happened was that this guy could not get out from this side because my neighbors were out here waiting for him,” Gutierrez said. “So he tried to exit through the (other) side window."
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the burglar did find a way out, taking with him Gutierrez’s television.
It stated that he and a second man then began to run away, but neighbors wouldn’t let them get far.
While one stood guard outside the home, another followed the burglars.
The men dropped the TV in a nearby alley and continued running, with neighbors following them for about two miles, the affidavit stated.
Yet another neighbor was able to tell police where to find the suspect, and also provided them with a name, the affidavit stated.
Police arrested Cesar Vasquez, 22, (pictured) Tuesday on a burglary charge.
"Hats off to my neighbors. We're indebted to them, and we'd do the same for them,” Gutierrez said.
While she doesn’t recommend that others take the law into their own hands, Gutierrez said she’s glad her neighbors helped her.
Many of them, she said, also have had burglaries at their homes and are fed up with crime.
Gutierrez said their quick action led to a happy ending for her.
“I got my TV back,” she said. “It’s a little banged up, but I got it back and it’s working.”