MORIARTY, N.M. (KRQE) - Thieves targeting car batteries have been on a two-county spree although authorities say a recent arrest may help curb the problem.
"From us they've stolen approximately 30," said Ralph Chowning of RV Sales in Moriarty.
Police from Albuquerque to Moriarty said the car starters are a hot commodity for thieves.
"The batteries, you know they're getting $25, $30 a pop at the recycling companies," said Torrance County Sheriff Heath White.
Businesses along Route 66 in Torrance and southern Santa Fe and counties have been hit especially hard in the last couple of months.
White estimated upwards of 80 batteries have been swiped, and that is not all.
"On top of that--people's batteries out of their cars--radiators and wheels," Sheriff White said.
Chowning said between the RV and car batteries and scrap metal taken from his property he is out a pretty penny.
"Our guess here from what they've stolen, I would say is probably a minimum of $4,000 probably over $5,000," said Chowning.
The sheriff said the thefts were all pretty similar in nature, which leads him to believe it's the work of the same crew.
He put that theory to the test just this week.
"We worked with the businesses in the Moriarty area to set up a kind of an elaborate sting to catch these people," the sheriff said.
It worked. Cameras captured someone sneaking onto a businesses property looking for loot.
White identified that someone was Joseph Solether, 18, who was arrested early Thursday morning.
"I was tickled," Chowning said. "It does give you some satisfaction that he does get caught."
The sheriff said they have a good idea of the other people involved in these thefts although no additional arrests have been made yet.
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John Smith with your forecast and Kim Vallez with your afternoon headlines.
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