Armed men stormed into a Santa Rosa home Thursday morning, jolting awake a sleeping family and tying up a pregnant mother and her two children.
The masked men demanded marijuana and cash but the family had none, Sonoma County Sheriff's Sgt. Carlos Basurto said. The unknown intruders left with jewelry after ransacking the Moorland Avenue home, according to the family, gathered outside of their single-story house hours after the event.
Basurto said the men also took an airsoft gun and a cellphone.
"We have a good family, they came to the wrong place today," said brother-in-law Jesus Alcazar of Rohnert Park.
The home is on the other side of Moorland Avenue from a small horseshoe neighborhood where authorities last year seized about 1,100 marijuana plants from the backyards of 32 homes. The Sheriff's Office, aided by the FBI, launched the Sept. 26, 2012 raid after a complaint led to a sheriff's helicopter to survey the area, spotting pot plants in just about every backyard.
Jesus Alcazar said he and his family suspect the robbers had heard about marijuana in the neighborhood, but chose the wrong house.
"Nobody has marijuana here," he said.
Alcazar was not present during the robbery but recounted the event on behalf of his brother and sister-in-law. The extended family sat outside the house Thursday morning after Sonoma County sheriff's investigators had left. They sat outside the broken door left behind by the robbers.
The family dogs started barking at about 6:30 a.m., about a half hour after Pedro Alcazar left for work, said his brother Jesus Alcazar.
Three men burst through a back door, some wielding guns and all in masks, breaking through a lock and pulling off the door frame.
A fourth man waited outside.
Just four feet inside the door, Albina Valencia and her children, 7 and 13, had been asleep until the men burst into their home and started their demands.
"They said, 'Where is the money, where is the marijuana,' " said Alcazar, who translated from Spanish to English for his sister-in-law and brother.
The men used zip ties to cinch their wrists and ankles together. They demanded the terrified 7-year-old girl stop crying and be quiet.
After they convinced the men, who spoke in Spanish, they didn't have what they were looking for, the men began digging through drawers, dumping contents onto the ground.
They took some gold jewelry and after about half an hour, the men left in a white sedan.
The family then called 911 at 7:08 a.m. using a cellphone that wasn't taken, Basurto said.
Sonoma County sheriff's detectives interviewed the family and examined the house for evidence, Jesus Alcazar said. He said they couldn't offer clear descriptions of the men, other than the fact that they spoke Spanish and wore masks, he said. Basurto said investigators were told the men appeared to be in their 20s.
Hours after the ordeal was over, Albina Valencia rubbed faint red marks on her wrists, left behind by the ties, and held her 7-year-old daughter close, wrapped in a blanket against the cold morning air. Her husband had rushed home from work and the couple kept the children home from school. They would visit the doctor in the afternoon due to her pregnancy.