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Lawmakers push for stolen vehicle bill

SANTA FE – A bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers will push again next year for the creation of a vehicle database aimed at combating auto theft in New Mexico.

They are asking Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to add the proposal to the agenda of next year’s 30-day legislative session, which is otherwise dedicated to financial matters.

Officers arrest a teenage auto theft suspect after a cross-town chase in June. (Jim Thompson / Albuquerque Journal)

The bill would create a system for salvage yards and other auto recyclers to verify with the state Motor Vehicle Division that the vehicle they’re purchasing isn’t stolen.

The proposal comes after the Albuquerque area posted the highest per capita rate of auto thefts in the country for 2016, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

“My colleagues know that this legislation is critical to helping reduce auto theft in our state,” Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, said in a news release. “There was significant support, but the clock ran out on passage of this legislation last session.”

The proposal is also backed by Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, and Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque.

Martinez, a former prosecutor from Las Cruces, has already suggested that she will make anti-crime legislation a priority in the legislative session that starts Jan. 16. It’s the last regular session of tenure.

The bill has already drawn support from Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and State Police Chief Pete Kassetas.