It’s been three months since a shop on California Street was broken into by unknown thieves who made off with thousands of dollars worth of Native American jewelry and merchandise, but Yolanda Herrera hasn’t given up hope that she may recover some of it.

Herrera is the owner of the shop located in the former Pizza Hut, sharing the building with her son-in-law Damien Ocampo’s State Farm Insurance agency.

The Sept. 16 entry in the Socorro police blotter was brief and straight to the point:

An officer was called to a business in reference to a burglary. The officer arrived and met with the victim’s husband, who stated he was checking his wife’s shop and when he opened the door, he noticed pry marks on the door and frame. He said he did not enter the building but did notice multiple jewelry cases to be open. The victim arrived a short time later and was able to provide the officer with a list of all items taken and estimated the loss at over $50,000.

This display case is almost empty at Yolanda Herrera’s jewelry store after vandals stole $60,000 worth of jewelry.
Yolanda Herrera photo

Her loss turned out to be closer to $60,000.

“I’m so discouraged,” Herrera said. “You never think. I’ve had jewelry for years and years. You never want to think anything like that will happen.”

Herrera said the thieves were particular about what they wanted to steal.

“They actually did not take everything they could have,” she said. “They kind of went shopping. Just picked out the things they wanted and didn’t destroy anything or ransack the store.”

When everything was taken into account, Herrera estimated the total value of the items stolen to be approximately $60,000.

“There was a little gold and some diamonds – very little – but mostly it was Native American creations of turquoise and silver,” she said.

The exact time of the burglary is not known, but Herrera thinks it may be connected to a power blackout.

“This happened, I’m assuming, during the scheduled two-hour power outage that night,” she said. “We all got messages that the power would be out from 2 to 4 a.m. We assume they took advantage of that. It was totally dark.”

The burglary was first discovered when her husband, Polo, arrived at the business at about 9 a.m. “That’s the time he always goes to turn on the lights and the heat,” she said. “He found the door unlocked and open. They had jimmied the door with some kind of tool, and when he looked in, he saw that the display cases were all but cleaned out.”

With the door damaged, the shop had been completely unsecured between the time they broke in and nine o’clock that morning.

Police could find no fingerprints, Herrera said. “They obviously had gloves on.”

Herrera believes the incident is connected to a pair of women who had been browsing and looking around the shop, “probably within 10 days before that.

“I’ve got a feeling they had been casing the store,” she said. “I didn’t think anything of it then, but they apparently knew exactly where everything was in the glass cabinets where I keep my jewelry and another little curio cabinet with other items.

“I’m assuming this because they seemed to have gone straight to the stuff they had looked at,” she said. “Seven or eight big trays of rings, and all of the big squash blossoms with the turquoise and silver. Those can sell for between four and five thousand dollars.

“They were only interested in the pricey stuff and did it quickly. They picked what they wanted,” Herrera said. “Whole trays of rings, hundreds of rings. And several of the bracelets with the big stones.”

Also missing were a few bolo ties and belts with buckles with inlaid turquoise.

“I’ve got pictures and have been checking with some pawn shops in Albuquerque,” she said. “I know my stuff, I can spot it.”

Since the robbery, Herrera has boosted security and installed security cameras on the premises.

“But that night the power was out everywhere, and even the neighboring cameras were not working,” she said.