Readers share their crime stories

As Albuquerque embarks on a two-pronged system of policing – a chief to focus on fighting violent crime on one hand and a superintendent to ensure the department is on track with constitutional reforms on the other – the resounding cry from readers is to just stop thugs from taking our stuff.

After an UpFront column on Feb. 22 focused on auto burglars hitting several members of our Editorial Board, the email bag has been overflowing with similar stories. Here’s just a sample:

What do you want?

One reader said that after his car was burglarized: “I spotted the same guy on a neighbor’s property. He ran when I confronted him. I began to contact APD via the non-emergency line over the course of the next three weeks, each time I observed this same person in our neighborhood. … On one call, as I observed this individual attempting to remove a screen on the side of a house, the person on the other end of the APD line actually said, ‘Leave him alone and go home.’ I am not paraphrasing here.

“So, I took it upon myself to find out more about this individual. One time, I actually approached him … he was happy to give me his name and, more importantly, where he was living. … I began calling the non-emergency line to APD, demanding that something be done. … After another week of this, I finally got THE call. An APD officer was on the other end of the line. He informed me he was standing face to face with my burglar. He confirmed his name and the fact that he lived there. Then came what I have found to be a question that typifies APD’s response to property crime. He asked me, ‘What do you want me to do?’ ”

23 stolen tonight

“I had my car stolen out of my garage, along with hiking and camping gear, and landscaping tools. I had heard the perps about 4 a.m. … and I walked in on them – they darted out of the garage in my car right before my eyes. I immediately called 911 and an officer showed up an hour and half after my call. The perps left behind their backpack filled with heroin and their driver’s licenses. APD ‘misplaced’ the evidence and no one was ever caught. … The response I got from the 911 operator: ‘Sir, your car is the 23rd car stolen tonight. Please relax, we’re on our way.’ ”

Thefts on camera

From Nob Hill, “I was installing our security cams one evening, and as I came back into the house to check the camera alignment and recording process, I saw on the screen a thief had come up the driveway right behind me and try to open our car doors. My first view on the cam was that. … Another time, we had a yard sale going on and my wife’s cellphone went missing. … I ran the cam back and we saw a woman walk behind my wife and pick up her phone where she had set it down. … We tracked (the phone) to a motel and, later, to the Downs casino, which is state property. We called the State Police, they descended on the casino en masse. The thief saw all the police arrive, and walked over and turned it in to security, saying she found it.”

Victimized 5 times

“The facility I currently work at has been victim to property crimes at least five times this year. As a retired police officer, it is disheartening to see the once-great APD fall to its knees with the Department of Justice and anti-police rhetoric in our county. The police profession is at a breaking point and it’s no wonder officers aren’t proactive … ”

Tech replaces cops

A member of law enforcement shares that “agencies rely too heavily on technology to handle crime victimization reporting. All too often, police departments are forgoing fundamental law enforcement investigative practices of face-to-face interactions and canvassing a neighborhood. … Heavy reliance on telephone reporting and online reporting serves to discourage victims from coming forward, resulting in offenders getting away with crimes. The technology barrier is real.”

APD ignores crimes

“During my 10-plus years in EMS on the streets of Albuquerque, I had occasion to be on many, many scenes with APD. A very large number of these folks are fine public servants. However, too many are steeped in self-pity. Too many are only there for the retirement. … ”

Cops have given up

From a local attorney, “The mayoral election will hinge on crime – who in their right mind wants to move to a city where the crime rate is out of control and the police have given up?”

Confronted thieves

“Our cars are always in the garage. It eliminates a lot of problems on a street where virtually every neighbor has had their car broken into and a couple have been stolen, (but) it looks like no one was home. A few years back, some kids assumed that, ringing the doorbell just to be sure. I answered. I very unwisely gently confronted them. … I could have been shot and killed like (homeowner and robbery victim) Steven Gerecke, who lived only a couple of miles away. It was very foolish of me; I learned, and will never do that sort of thing again.”

Downward spiral

“We are in a downward spiral when, as a society, we can’t have a nice car in the driveway or be secure in the home. How can we live in fear as we do today? Is this what we want for our kids?”

A common question from readers has been “other than locking my car doors, what do we do????” And it bears noting that virtually every letter ends with something along the lines of: “Thanks for the article, and understand we are all frustrated.”

Is City Hall getting that?

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column.


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