ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A popular Rail Runner station for commuters is also a popular target for auto burglars.
As KRQE News 13’s Katie Kim reported on Special Assignment in August, there wasn't much being done to stop it — until now.
Over the past few months, the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office has focused on catching criminals in the act at the North Valley Rail Runner stop.
It has already landed a handful of people behind bars.
Long before the Rail Runner pulls in, parking fills up at the Los Ranchos/Journal Center stop. That forces many to park in the dirt overflow lot across the street, where commuters say they have had items inside their cars, gas, and even their cars stolen.
But the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office has stepped up its operations there.
“Our HEAT (High Enforcement Action Team) unit started working some tactical operations in that area by setting up baited items, not necessarily bait cars, but items that have trackers on them just to see what people are going to do,” said Sgt. Aaron Williamson with BCSO.
As expected, people took the bait — six people in about four weeks.
Three were just 17-years-old, arrested last month for auto burglary.
Jason, 21, and his brother, Stephan Eberhard, 23, also face auto burglary charges from August — both with a criminal history.
In just one case pending from last year, Stephan is charged with child abuse, DWI, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and drugs.
Then, there's 60-year-old Flavio Garcia, arrested for felony larceny. His criminal history dates back to 1997.
“It is frustrating for us law enforcement to go out there and catch somebody. They go to jail. They do a little bit of time. They come back out and they keep doing the same things over and over,” Williamson said.
But so far, this bait operation seems to be working.
“We saw a little bit of a drop in that area, so hopefully we can continue to do operations like this and continue to see a reduction in crime,” he said.
When KRQE did the story back in August, there had been two cars reported stolen from the Rail Runner parking lot.
BCSO said since this bait operation started, they haven't heard of any.
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