When he arrived home one evening, a man walked into his front door only to come face-to-face with a home intruder making off with a load of electronics and jewelry. Instead of running to safety or calling the police, the furious homeowner “went Mike Tyson on him.”
When California resident Sal Mercado pulled up to his Oak Park home one evening, he noticed a strange car with a driver parked outside his house. Shrugging it off as a coincidence, he headed to the entrance. As soon as he walked through the door, however, he realized why the unknown vehicle was waiting outside.
“He starts to go through the side of me to get out of the house, but I went BAM with the right cross, and he went down onto the grass of the front yard, picked himself up and ran to the car,” recalled Mercado.
The suspect was part of an organized “crime tourism” ring, which consists of foreign individuals who cross state or international borders to commit crimes before returning home.
“The thought was, ‘I got this guy. I’m going to catch him. I want to make sure he gets prosecuted. I want to make sure I hold him down until the cops get here, because our government is not doing enough to fight crime,’” said Sal Mercado, who spoke with Eyewitness News about the frightening encounter. “My mentality was, ‘Don’t let this guy escape.’”
Unfortunately, the first man got away to the car waiting outside. It was then that Mercado ran into a second thief. The man came barrelling down the stairs, his arms filled with electronics and jewelry. Once again, Mercado did what he knew best.
“He came at me … I didn’t know if he had weapons before anything could happen,” said the homeowner. “I just went BAM with the right, BAM with the left … I went Mike Tyson on him. He stumbled then he fell on the grass coming out of the house.”
Mercado wasn’t about to let another one get away without consequences. This time, he aggressively pursued the thief, taking him to the ground and restraining him while he yelled for his neighbors to call the police.
“I tackled him and shoved him into the bushes on the side of my house again,” said Mercado. “The way I tackled him … grabbing his arms, pulling them back, pin them on the back, and then put my full weight on his head, but he was all bloody and my whole arms were bloody.”
“I just didn’t give him a chance, just hit him, because first of all, I don’t know if he has a gun, a knife, any kind of weapon, right? You just don’t know. Your mind goes crazy,” Mercado said.
Authorities explained that the burglars will often apply for visas online and then fly into LAX to target homeowners. “They’ll typically case neighborhoods in advance and see ways they can get in and out,” said Deputy Ashley Barrios.
While Mercado is upset that he wasn’t able to catch the other two thieves, he is glad he nabbed one of them. When asked if he would react in the same way after knowing what he now knows, he said, “I’d do it again.”
Sal Mercado did the best he could to protect himself and his property. Unfortunately, he’s right to be concerned with the legal system, as it has allowed such criminals to evade justice in similar cases.
Although the other thieves managed to make their escape, we can bet they won’t be returning to Mercado’s house anytime soon. Experiencing his “Mike Tyson” response was likely enough to scare them off for good.