“We got pictures of people parked in a parking lot with their hood open on whatever car they’re driving — it’s probably a stolen car. They have the hood open, and they make it appear as though they’re working on the car and then they get down underneath the car, except when underneath the car they slide over to the next car.”
Greg Weber, Albuquerque Police Department’s northeast area acting commander, explained to the Heritage East Association of Residents how quickly thieves move to steal catalytic converters during a presentation on crime prevention at the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center on Thursday. Weber said he did not have statistics on the number of converters stolen but said it is important for residents to report these types of crimes even if there is little evidence APD can collect.
“Let’s say you left a sports bag in your car and you come out and the window was broken out and the bag is gone. The chances that we will get evidence off of that are about .5%,” Weber said. “I would encourage people to report that stuff … because if I don’t have it, I may not know that it’s happening.” If crimes are not reported, it makes it more difficult for the police to take any action, he added.
Besides reporting crimes, Weber and Angie Casias, Northeast Area Command crime prevention specialist, said it is also important to avoid being a soft target for criminals. They offered many different tips for individuals and neighborhoods to stop crime before it ever happens. Some of the devices that can be used to prevent auto burglaries include kill switches, steering wheel locks, collars, brake locks and etching the VIN on the vehicle’s glass.
“Most of Albuquerque is still very high for auto theft overall,” Weber said. “In the northeast, I would say two-thirds of our auto thefts are occurring in hotels and apartment complexes. The remaining third is going to be a mixture of residential and so forth.”
When asked if drugs were a problem in the area, Weber said APD deals with a number of addicts who use city buses to transport themselves and drugs to all parts of town.
“Fentanyl is the most common drug that we see on the street. It’s all over the place,” Weber said. “So, this particular area … We have a number of nomadic transitory type people that ride the buses, and they’re all over the place.” Although there are not as many arrests in the far Northeast Heights, he said APD does track their movement and when they are apprehended, they often have “blues,” or fentanyl pills, in their possession. Weber said the transitory types are usually users and not dealers, but many fentanyl addicts will steal or commit other crimes to pay for their addiction.
Some of the strategies Weber and Casias recommend include securing jewelry and firearms in a safe, trimming trees and pruning hedges to eliminate hiding places, installing motion sensor lighting on the sides of homes, and changing locks when moving into a new home.
As far as Heritage East goes, Weber said the neighborhood was looking good. “For the area encompassed by your neighborhood, last month we only had 14 calls. One of those was a vandalism. We had one forgery call … some domestic violence stuff. No reported break-ins, no burglaries, no robberies. So, overall, over the last 30 days, your neighborhood is in great shape.”
To learn more about strategies and crime prevention tips, visit cabq.gov/police/crime-prevention-safety.