Kathy Routledge and Stephanie Hubbell stand by the window that was used by burglars to gain access to Hubbell’s shop. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

On the morning of March 27, Sonoita shop owner Stephanie Hubbell received a phone call informing her that her store, Cowgirl Flair Boutique, had been broken into. The owner of the Sonoita Mini-Market was alerted to the break in by a Border Patrol agent who noticed an open window and bent screen. The shop, which is located at the intersection of SR 83 and SR 82 in Sonoita next to the Mini-Market, is just down the road from the Sonoita Border Patrol station, where three human traffickers, or coyotes, U.S. citizens from Phoenix, had been released that morning. Their vehicle had been confiscated when they were apprehended attempting to transport two migrants that they had picked up south of Patagonia. The migrants were deported back to Mexico. 

When Hubbell arrived at her shop, she found that approximately $500 had been stolen from her cash register, and three shirts and five pairs of jeans had been stolen. Two blankets and a Bose radio were stolen from Bunkhouse, the home décor shop at the rear of the boutique. Hubbell also found cigarette butts and evidence of drug use, possibly crack. The burglars started a fire outside the building in a flowerpot, burning pages out of books from the free library nook that stands in front of the store.  

The burglars then walked to the Dollar General Store and purchased cell phones with the money stolen from Cowgirl Flair, which were recovered when they were arrested later that morning by Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s officers. The two men and one woman were apprehended near the Sonoita Fire Station as they attempted to hitchhike north on SR 83 and are in custody in Nogales. Hubbell was only able to recover $100 of the stolen cash.

“I’ve been in business since 2012 and I’ve never had a problem,” Hubbell said. “You let your guard down in a small community like we have. I’m hoping that we can get help from our state government because we know we’re not going to get help from Washington.”

Hubbell would like to see the Governor send the National Guard to this area.

“It’s a presence,” she said, “and another helping hand that the Border Patrol doesn’t have right now.”