Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
The woman suddenly couldn’t contain herself.
“This is mine and this is mine and this is mine and this is mine,” she blurted out.
The 66-year-old woman, who asked that her name not be used because she lives alone, was among more than 100 people who methodically filed past rows of items as they sought to retrieve what had been taken from them during home and auto burglaries.
The inventory included collectible coins and paper money, wristwatches, a saxophone, an electronic sound mixing board, kachina dolls, a chain saw, camera equipment, a portable acetylene welding machine, a scrap book, ceremonial Marine swords and thousands upon thousands of pieces of jewelry.
Most searched in vain, even as the suddenly animated woman was beside herself with joy. “I’m a happy camper, but I’m also pissed off,” she said with tears in her eyes as she identified a pair of cuff links and a tie clasp from the 1930s that belonged to her father, and a plastic hospital wrist band worn by her infant daughter the day she was born in 1972.
In all, she estimates she recovered about 20 percent of her stolen property and none of the really expensive pieces.
“I had been in the hospital in September and my daughter took me home and, as soon as we opened the door, we saw that the house was in disarray and things were turned over.” The burglar, she said, apparently broke in through her bedroom window.
APD Detective Jose Lucero said the items displayed on 36 tables and lined along walls were the result of two separate cases and the recent arrest of four people. One of the cases involved a fencing operation fronting as a consignment store and the other was solved with the arrest of two people in a stolen car.
Unfortunately, Lucero said, only about 15 percent of stolen property is recovered by the owner. Unclaimed items are held for 120 days, after which they are sent to Propertyroom.com, an outside company that auctions them off and deposits the money in the city’s general fund.
Elise Rogers searched the tables unsuccessfully for jewelry stolen from her Albuquerque home in June. Her husband, she said, came home and encountered the burglar, “who bolted out a back door and jumped a wall,” but not before separating out the costume jewelry, and running off with the real and more expensive items.
Rodney Barton and his family had just moved into a new home and were using their garage as a holding area before sorting and moving items into the home. Just before Thanksgiving, a thief broke into his daughter’s car, took everything in the car, including her high school letterman jacket, and then used the garage door opener in the car to enter and clean out the garage.
A bicycle, musical and electronic equipment, a toolbox and an entire jewelry armoire were stolen.
“It made me feel angry and violated,” Barton said. “I hate that this happens to people who work hard for a living. And stealing my daughter’s $400 letterman jacket that had her name on it and which she only wore twice – I mean, what kind of person does that?”