ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time in years, Albuquerque is not in the top five for auto thefts. A report released Tuesday shows car thefts in the metro area are down nine percent from last year and more than 40 percent in the last three years.

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“We got really good news today. This has been an arduous journey. One that’s been not only taken on by the police department but also by the citizens of Albuquerque, who have done a really good job in preventing of those preventable thefts,” said Lt. Aaron Jones, of Albuquerque Police’s Investigative Support Division, which oversees auto thefts.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2018, the Albuquerque metro-region, which includes four counties, saw 7,146 auto thefts. in 2020, the report said that number was down to 5,835. APD attributes the decline to its partnerships with state police and the Office of Superintendent of Insurance as well as citizens being more careful.

“You grab some friends to help you along the way. You know, other law enforcement entities to help us with this problem that we have in Albuquerque. They help shoulder a lot of the responsibility and the weight,” said Lt. Jones. “They provided investigative resources, manpower, bolstering our numbers so we can have a reasonable amount of detectives and agents going out and trying to identify and apprehend the prolific auto thieves.”

The number of auto thefts nationwide increased during 2020. APD said it doesn’t think the pandemic played a big role in Albuquerque’s 2020 decline.

“I don’t believe, you know, whenever we look at the statistics, the idea that we were shut down because of the pandemic that that really has a whole lot of merit when you’re looking at the statistical analysis throughout the nation on what was going on in states around us,” said Lt. Jones. While the news of the decrease is encouraging, Albuquerque is still ranked sixth in about 400 metropolitan areas for auto thefts.

“We definitely have room to celebrate, right? But, that doesn’t mean we can take our foot off the proverbial gas pedal right,” said Lt. Jones. “We’re definitely headed in the right direction but we don’t want to be anywhere close to the top ten, the top twenty, so we still have work to do and we realize that.”

APD plans to continue its partnerships with other law enforcement agencies to keep the trend going down. APD Chief Harold Medina also said he wants more support.

“I think it’s very evident right now that we’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem. That we need assistance from the courts, we need assistance from prosecutors and we have to do what’s right the people of Albuquerque,” said Chief Medina. “Individuals who are in stolen cars are committing wide variety of crime. And it’s disappointing that we’ve seen how these individuals are involved in officer-involved shootings and have discharged firearms at offices. That goes to show the risk every day citizens face when these individuals maybe come across them during the commission of the crime.”

Chief Medina said he’s also like to work with state lawmakers to address the auto theft problem and tell them what APD officers face on the streets.

The Albuquerque Police Department says it’s working with state police to target the thefts that often lead to other crimes. Bakersfield, San Francisco, Yuba City, California, Denver, and Odessa fill out the top five.