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Artesia woman arrested on two consecutive mornings

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ARTESIA — An Artesia woman was arrested on two consecutive mornings this week after trespassing at and breaking into a pair of local businesses.

Just after 3 a.m. July 31, an Artesia Police Department (APD) officer was dispatched to Artesia Ford Sales in reference to suspicious activity following a report of an SUV on the lot with all four of its doors open and a person rummaging inside.

Upon arrival, police located the vehicle and made contact with a woman who appeared to be inspecting the engine compartment. Officers recognized the individual from previous encounters as 36-year-old Mary Carmen Aguilar-Morales.

Aguilar-Morales ignored officers’ commands to stop tampering with the vehicle and was subsequently detained while police inspected the SUV, which had multiple items and components out of place within the interior.

A representative of the business was called to the scene and verified that the vehicle had been tampered with, though nothing had been explicity damaged.

Aguilar-Morales was subsequently charged with criminal trespassing.

Just before 3:30 a.m. the next morning, Aug. 1, officers were dispatched to Stripes in reference to a report of breaking and entering.

Police arrived to find Aguilar-Morales behind the counter of the convenience store. As was the case the evening prior, Aguilar-Morales refused to make a statement and was detained.

Officers spoke with an employee of Stripes, who stated they had arrived at work and made their way to the back of the store to retrieve some items. When they returned to the front, they found Aguilar-Morales seated on the floor behind the cash register.

The employee temporarily believed the woman had reason to be in the store, as she was wearing a shirt displaying the Stripes logo, but quickly realized she was not an employee. Aguilar-Morales had also handed the employee a set of keys attached to a lanyard that belonged to the store.

In addition, Aguilar-Morales had produced a key the employee recognized as a front-door key from one of two plastic bags behind the counter. Police found multiple items of merchandise from the store inside the bags, ranging from cigars, vaping devices and butane torches to work gloves, rolling papers and a pair of wireless headphones.

The total value of the bags — which the employee stated she had observed Aguilar-Morales filling as she rummaged through the register area — was $230.41.

Officers were also able to view surveillance video that shows Aguilar-Morales entering the building around 2:40 a.m. She appeared to have used the front-door key she later handed to the employee.

Aguilar-Morales was arrested on charges of commercial burglary.

She is scheduled to appear at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, for a pre-trial hearing on the charge of criminal trespassing and preliminary examination on the charge of commercial burglary.

Court records show Aguilar-Morales was arrested for shoplifting in 2019, fraudulent use of a credit card in 2020, and larceny in April of this year.

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