Sergio Hernandez Jr. and his father arrived home around noon Monday to discover a stranger standing in their back yard, he told KGTV.
The man claimed to be hiding from a dog, but he hopped a fence when Hernandez noticed the window to his father’s bedroom had been opened, he told the station.
Hernandez chased the man down and brought him back to talk to his father, Sergio Hernandez Sr., who said three rooms in their home had been ransacked and called police, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune.
When the man tried again to escape, Hernandez — a professional mixed martial arts fighter — threw him to the ground and put him in a triangle choke hold, he told the publication.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“It took at least five minutes for the cops to show up,” Hernandez told the Union-Tribune. “It may not seem like a long time, but when you’re holding a giant guy who’s trying not go to jail, it feels like forever.”
A video posted to Instagram shows Hernandez sitting calmly on the ground with his legs locked around the accused burglar’s throat.
The man asks Hernandez to let him up, but Hernandez orders him not to move as they wait for police.
“Deep down in my heart, I guess I wanted to break the dude’s arm, but I don’t get a kick out of hurting people,” Hernandez told KGTV.
Officers arrested Fernando Plascenia, 21, on suspicion of burglary, reported the San Diego Police Department.
In the caption of the Instagram post, Hernandez says Plascenia asked not to be separated from his 2-year-old child in jail. “I felt bad about that,” he wrote.
But Hernandez, who told the Union-Tribune he’s been practicing ju-jitsu for 13 years and has competed in four professional MMA fights, said he feels he did the right thing.
“I just didn’t want to take him at his word that he wasn’t going to do it again,” he said. “I hope he doesn’t have any hard feelings.”
His father, a retired boxing coach and school counselor, told KGTV he’d like to see Plascenia again, but under better circumstances.
“I would like to invite him to a boxing gym,” Sergio Hernandez Sr. told the station. “He’s young, there is still time to save him, to guide him in the right direction.”