ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque police have arrested Antonio Santiago Pargas, 21, in connection with a multi-month crime spree that involved $500,000 in stolen computers from various schools around the city according to court records.
As the result of a joint investigation between the Albuquerque Police Department and Albuquerque Public Schools police, Pargas was arrested late Monday at a private residence on charges of burglary, larceny, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy and receiving stolen property according to the complaint. According to the criminal complaint, police found stolen computers at the residence.
Albuquerque police set up surveillance of Pargas after he was connected to a break-in at Valle Vista Elementary Oct. 31, another at Jefferson Elementary earlier this month and, most recently, Navajo Elementary according to the complaint.
According to the criminal complaint, the computers were worth about $1,800 each, but Pargas sold at least one on Craigslist for $200.
Brad Winter, chief operations officer for APS, said a string of burglaries has taken place at schools across the district since this summer. Winter said police believe Pargas and a group of others are responsible for a majority of the thefts.
Winter, who has been with APS for 25 years, said the recent rash of break-ins is the most burglaries he has seen occur in this short a time period. He said he estimated that about 100 computers have been stolen in the past six to eight months.
Other schools hit by computer thieves, he said, include Pajarito, Tomasita and La Luz elementaries, and Valley High.
Pargas was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center Tuesday morning and has a $50,000 cash or surety bond according to jail records. He was also charged with drug possession when being booked into MDC after officers discovered he was carrying heroin. He was still in custody as of Wednesday evening.
Police are remaining tight-lipped about the crime spree for now because it is an ongoing investigation, but at least three other people have been arrested in connection with the break-ins. Tasia Martinez, spokeswoman for APD, said officers “are still in the process of conducting interviews, which could result in subsequent arrests. They are not ready to release any information on this case … .”
Winter said the district continues to beef up security and improve surveillance at all its school campuses to make it harder for these type of crimes to happen.
“We take this very seriously,” he said. “This hurts our kids … . Not only is it taxpayer money, but to have this group taking from our kids, it’s absurd.”