LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- After losing $9,000 worth of property to three separate burglaries, the owner of Galaxy Gaming Lounge is choosing to sleep on his property.
"Since that third time, I've been living here," said Mario Sauceda. "That's the only way (to prevent it). Being here 24/7."
Sauceda told ABC-7 that all three burglaries happened during the state's mandated closures of his business, which is deemed non-essential during the pandemic.
"Every time the governor said, 'We're going to shut down the businesses,' the next day I would show up and everything was gone,'" Sauceda said.
Non-residential burglaries increased by 291% this year, according to the Las Cruces Police Department. Because of the public health crisis, July was the last month the data was publicly available.
The owners of Play it Again Sports told ABC-7 that their business was burglarized twice during the pandemic.
"This last break-in, we literally saw the guy walk up and break into the store," said Justin Glick, who owns the business with his wife.
"The local criminals really took that as an opportunity to start vandalizing businesses," said Alysha Glick. "During the first shutdown and the second shutdown, we were just one of so many local businesses to be targeted."
On top of the two burglaries and the state's closure of the business, Play it Again Sports has seen plummeting profits with the cancelation of school and city sports.
"Trying to operate a sporting goods store for a whole year in a state where sports have been essentially illegal, that's a real challenge," Alysha Glick said.
A Las Cruces police spokesman applauded the businesses that have installed security systems. He said police have patrolled the parking lots of businesses that are closed, but officers "can't be at all places at all times."
"We can't be private security guards," added LCPD's Dan Trujillo.