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Law enforcement agencies team up against auto theft

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In an effort to put a dent in the area’s auto theft problem, officers from Albuquerque Police Department and New Mexico State Police joined deputies from Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday to participate in an auto theft suppression initiative.

According to Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, more than 65 uniformed and non-uniformed officers participated in Thursday’s operation, which focused on areas in the West Side and far northwest Albuquerque.

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Schlattman uses binoculars to read the license plates of suspected stolen cars Thursday

Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Schlattman uses binoculars to read the license plates of suspected stolen cars Thursday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

“We have intelligence and information and the focus is auto theft,” Gonzales said during a news conference at the North Area Command Center. “We’re looking for vehicles. We’re looking for offenders. Some of the people who are here (Thursday), auto theft personnel, will be looking at those individuals they are conducting investigations on. We have warrants out there and there’s a lot of stolen vehicles out there, so we’ll be looking for those also.”

The Sheriff’s Office reported Thursday night there were 70 traffic stops, 25 citations, four felony arrests, eight felony warrant arrests, one misdemeanor warrant arrest, nine stolen vehicles recovered, one firearm seized and .25 ounces of methamphetamine seized.

Gonzales said the agencies will continue to work together on such operations as long as auto theft is an issue.

According to FBI data, New Mexico’s auto thefts are concentrated in Albuquerque.

In 2016, the city accounted for about 65 percent of the stolen vehicles in the state and about 30 percent of the population.

That same year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau ranked the greater Albuquerque area as having the highest per-capita rate of auto thefts in the country, with 1,114 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people.

Last year, the city recorded 7,684 auto thefts, down slightly from 2016, when 7,710 vehicles were reported stolen.

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