ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Last month, Mayor Tim Keller ecstatically reported that the number of property crimes had dropped dramatically in the first three months of this year – residential burglary down by 32 percent, auto theft down by 29 percent, auto burglary by 28 percent, robbery by 22 percent, compared with last year’s numbers during the same period.
I hate to steal the mayor’s thunder, but why does it still feel like we’re being robbed of our vehicles, our property, our Amazon Prime deliveries, our sense of security at a rate that still feels bad?
And then there is Barbie.
She’s such a pig, perhaps the most famous and beloved one in the city. The pig, whose full name is Tequila Barbie for reasons we can only surmise, is well-known in yoga circles and among therapeutic communities where this porker sparks joy in folks with special needs.
She’s also a frequent sight at events in Albuquerque and on social media. If you’ve not seen this little piggie in the pink tutu then, honey, you’re not getting out enough.
But on April 24, pigs of a different kind pilfered her from her yard near Gibson and Yale SE. Neighbors say they saw two men hoist the squealing pig into a black truck.
A Snapchat photo two days later appeared to show Barbie in the bed of a truck, a rope around her neck. Someone reported that people were trying to sell her at Jerry Cline Park, near Louisiana NE and Interstate 40.
Social media exploded with reports of her disappearance. Donations poured in, fundraisers were held until the reward for her return topped $5,000.
“Albuquerque,” one woman wrote on Facebook, “has lost its heart.”
Who stoops so low as to steal iconic livestock? Yet we know that sometimes things thieves steal have little value on the black market, the street, the pawnshop. It’s just mean, just stupid to abscond with things like an urn of a beloved’s remains, photographs, papers, a pig.
Here are a few odd items stolen recently, as culled from local and social
One of the cruelest, most senseless thefts is that of a Rifton brand adaptive tricycle donated to a girl with special needs. The trike, which has a distinctive handlebar and pedals, was taken Friday in the Fair Heights neighborhood, northeast of San Mateo and Lomas NE. “A new low for ABQ thieves,” the girl’s aunt says.
• A hamster was hoisted from Petland, 6600 Holly NE, on Friday.
• A Taylor Ranch woman’s car had its window broken and a pink lunch box with a peanut butter sandwich inside taken.
• A hot air balloon named Bright Idea was recently stolen along with a car and trailer at Unique Motor Sports at 5113 Lomas NE by thieves who were anything but bright. Their antics were caught on surveillance video, and the balloon was located with minimal damage Saturday.
• A home security system captured video of a man leaving a box at an Albuquerque residence and running away. As reported by KOAT, a note of apology written on the box indicated that the man was no porch pirate but an “upset father” whose son stole the box, which contained insulin.
Barbie wasn’t the only pig to disappear this month. On April 19, two pigs, each weighing in at more than 150 pounds, were stolen out of a family’s front yard in Southwest Albuquerque. The porker pair were days away from becoming the main course at a matanza, according to KOB.
As for Barbie, on Sunday, a resident on Rhode Island SE noticed a spotted creature in distress wandering around a nearby abandoned property. That creature was Barbie.
Today, she is home and in the arms of Sydney Forestal, her human sidekick. Her safe return was top news on several Albuquerque TV newscasts, a nice break from the usual murder and mayhem.
I get that. After my son died in March 2017, I functioned on a numb, robotic level in a world that suddenly seemed joyless and gray. One day after completing some dour postmortem duty, I and another son stopped at the 377 Brewery for refreshment when a little spotted pig in a pink tutu walked in.
“I just hope you know how your little piggie brought a little joy to me and my son,” I later wrote Forestal. “My older son, 23, died two weeks ago, so seeing you and her walk in was one of the first times I can remember something adorable that made me smile so effortlessly.”
That’s joy that money cannot buy and thieves cannot and should not take away ever again.
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Joline at 823-3603, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @jolinegkg. Go to abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.