Metro auto theft rate drops 42% in four years - Albuquerque Journal

Metro auto theft rate drops 42% in four years

Police investigate a homicide last month on Albuquerque’s West Side. (Robert Browman/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque exited the top tier of worst metro areas for auto theft in 2020, and midyear statistics for 2021 also show a drop in property crime.

Meanwhile, violent crime continued to rise in a year that has seen a record-breaking number of homicides.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau released a report Tuesday that the Albuquerque-metro area – which includes Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties – ranked sixth on the list with an auto theft rate of 632 per 100,000 people. The metro area had ranked worst in the nation from 2016 to 2018 until dropping into second place in 2019.

The numbers indicate a 9% decrease in the rate of auto thefts from 2019 totals and a 42% decrease from 2017. There were 5,835 auto thefts in 2020.

Police Chief Harold Medina said auto theft is “a key driver” of all crime in the metro area and Mayor Tim Keller called the new ranking a “testament to proactive policing and successful partnerships.”

Separately, authorities also released midyear crime statistics. The statistics, which looked at the first six months of 2021 against previous years, showed overall crime dropped 9% from 2020 and 20% since 2018. Property crime dropped 9%, violent crime increased 1% and “crimes against society,” which includes drug, weapon and prostitution offenses, and had been on a decrease since 2018, went up 8%.

Among property crime, burglary, forgery, property destruction and breaking and entering saw some of the largest decreases.

There were increases in robberies and a spike in fraud offenses driven almost entirely by a 330% jump in identity theft – from 376 reports in 2020 to 1,619 this year.

As for violent crime, aggravated assault went up 8%, nonnegligent murder went up 122% and there was an 11% increase in the forcible rape category. Those increases led to the three categories having their highest midyear totals since at least 2018.

The only notable decrease was seen in simple assaults, which dropped by 276 incidents and largely offset the spikes in other violent crimes.

Among crimes against society, drug offenses went down 13% and prostitution offenses went down 60%. However, weapons law violations jumped 80%, from 408 to 734, leading to the highest midyear total since at least 2018.

“We know homicides and gun violence have gone up dramatically during COVID, and we are doing a lot to address those spikes,” Medina said in a statement, noting that the drop in property crime is “significant.”

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