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Woman faces 155 charges in auto break-ins

Nicole Padilla (MDC)

Rio Rancho police arrested a woman who is accused of breaking into numerous vehicles – up to four in one day – outside gyms and using the credit cards to rack up thousands of dollars in charges at department stores.

Nicole Padilla, 24, faces over 155 charges in connection to at least 10 auto burglaries over the past six months.

The charges include 10 counts of auto burglary, 20 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, 24 counts of theft of identity, 29 counts of theft of a credit card by taking or retaining possession, eight counts of larceny, two counts of criminal damage to property and conspiracy.

Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque Police spokesman, said Padilla was arrested on Monday by Rio Rancho police “as she attempted an auto burglary at another gym.”

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, Padilla caught the attention of Albuquerque police in August when a detective began investigating four auto burglaries that happened on July 18 outside the Highpoint Sports and Wellness, near Montgomery and Tramway. Police say three of the victims’ credit cards were used to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards at Target stores and identified Padilla in the store’s surveillance footage.

Target staffers told the detective they had created a file of surveillance videos on Padilla because of the “suspicious manner” of her purchases.

“This information led me to several other burglaries that had been committed in the same manner,” a detective wrote.

Police say they identified at least 10 auto burglaries committed by Padilla, between May 20 and Sept. 30, in gym parking lots throughout Albuquerque.

According to the complaint, Padilla broke a car window in each burglary and stole up to hundreds of dollars’ worth of belongings as well as credit cards, using those cards to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards at Target stores.

On Sept. 30, police say, they followed Padilla to gyms around town and watched as she drove from space to space, exiting the car several times and looking into vehicle windows, in each parking lot.

According to the complaint, detectives watched as Padilla broke into a vehicle at the fourth gym and stole a white purse before tailing her to a Target store in Rio Rancho.

However, police say, Padilla fled the Target store without being apprehended.

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