ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department believes 34-year-old Cleo Barela robbed a Bob’s Burgers on Juan Tabo armed with a gun two weeks ago. “She is a serial armed robber, she meets the definition of it,” Kenneth Johnston, Acting Deputy Commander for APD, said. But Police say she’s behind bars now.
“There has been a string of robberies that have occurred, usually about one to two a month with a person who matches her very description,” Johnston said. He said police have been keeping tabs on her for more than a year. She’s suspected in armed robberies at multiple Subways and Starbucks, a Pizza Hut, Burger King and more. “When we were first figuring out who she was, she was being picked up on an auto theft charge out of the Sandia Pueblo.”
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According to documents, on September 9, Barela was arrested by the Sandia Police Department for stealing a man’s car at gunpoint in northeast Albuquerque. She was released from jail on September 18. After that, detectives started looking into her background and discovered there was much more to this case. “We were able to then connect her to that crime which has helped us connect her to multiple others,” Johnston said.
A few days later, on September 22, detectives obtained an arrest warrant. That’s the same day she is accused of another armed robbery and an attempted robbery in northeast Albuquerque. One at a Twisters and the other at the Bob’s Burgers on Juan Tabo. Barela was taken into custody the next day. “We have to give everybody their day in court which is important, but we want to put together the most air-tight cases we can on this individual because she has been causing havoc on our community,” Johnston said.
She’s now charged with five armed robberies and an attempted robbery. “Our robbery team is ecstatic over this one, every time we find somebody that has this amount of violence built into what they do, it is a huge success,” Johnston said.
But police believe there will be more charges coming. “There’s at least 22 that I can say that I believe that she is our primary suspect in.”
A hearing to decide if Barela will stay behind bars has not yet been set.