A trail of candy wrappers and some old-fashioned police work helped Arizona investigators nab a suspected burglar, who broke into a party supply store.
Jennifer Jimenez, whose parents own Matty's Enterprise in Eloy, pulled up to the store to find a broken window, money missing from the cash register, and the store's safe stolen. The total loss: more than $2,000 in cash, along with some merchandise. But Jimenez noticed something else was missing from behind the counter.
"Usually, we have it all stocked, all the candies, and we had a box of a variety of chocolates," Jimenez told KNXV, ABC's Phoenix affiliate. "All the chocolates were gone, completely."
It all started around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, when an alarm was tipped at the business. The alarm company contacted Eloy Police, who sent a patrol officer. Department officials said the officer found nothing suspicious in the area, but a city worker reported the broken storefront window around 7:30 that same morning, just before Jimenez arrived.
When investigators arrived on the scene, they found a partial footprint on the broken window that matched a second behind the store's building. That footprint was surrounded by candy wrappers, with more a few feet away. Police were able to follow the trail of footprints and wrappers about a quarter of a mile, through town, over railroad tracks and across a dirt lot to the home of 45-year-old Jose Lopez Jr.
"This is a little different than most cases," Stacy Smith, the public information officer at the Eloy Police Department, told ABC News. "With the trail left behind, and the distance they were able to follow it, it was definitely out of the ordinary for us."
Police recovered $1,834 in cash and coins from Lopez's home, and $550 in gold and silver jewelry, which had been in the safe. Smith said Lopez also had fresh cuts on his arms, consistent with blood found on the broken window. He was arrested for third degree burglary, theft, possession of marijuana, and had an outstanding felony warrant for violating probation. He is being held in the Pinal County Jail, and Smith said if convicted he could face jail time. Calls to Lopez and his family by ABC News were not returned.
Store co-owner Lydia Jimenez said she was out of town at the time of the burglary but got the news from her daughter, Jennifer. She said this wasn't the first time her business has been broken into. Another break-in two years ago ended with more than $2,000 in merchandise stolen, according to Jimenez, but police made no arrests in the case.
"For something like this to happen again, I felt disappointed and sad," Jimenez told ABC News. "I wanted to close my business and move somewhere else. It takes months and months of work, and we're here every day. When someone tries to take that away from you, that's upsetting, but this time I'm glad the police did such a good job."