ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Thieves have set their sights on one of the busiest areas in Albuquerque for unsuspecting tourists. So what makes it a prime target? Tourists are finally making their way back to the city, but some are coming out of their hotels to find their belongings gone — including their cars.
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According to crime map data, hotels in one area, in particular, are dealing with an ongoing problem of car break-ins and theft. Over the last six months, there have been at least 25 reports of theft and break-ins at the group of hotels west of the Albuquerque International Sunport, seven near the hotels south of Yale and Gibson, and 34 north of the intersection.
“It’s been a persistent problem for years now,” said Imesh Vaidya, CEO of Premier Hospitality. “The concentration of hotels and the number of tourists that are concentrated in that one small area, give them opportunity.”
Premier Hospitality oversees properties across the state. Vaidya says many hotels are taking their own measures to combat thieves.
“Most of the hotels in Albuquerque have implemented measures to protect our guests and their possessions,” said Vaidya. “Most of the hotels at the airport are spending up to $2,000 each per month to have their own security. My hotels have a security fence that requires a key to have entrance.”
The Albuquerque Police Department says it’s not just areas near the airport getting hit. They’re seeing thefts in large parking lots across the metro like malls and restaurants.
“We have a number of thefts that are being conducted at hotels that are very similar to what we’re seeing throughout the city,” said Aaron Jones with APD. “Because there’s a larger number of those vehicles, the thieves will choose to go to those because it’s kind of a one-stop-shop.”
Over the weekend, the Las Cruces High Marching Band had their truck full of instruments and equipment stolen from their hotel near the airport. They lucked out after police found the truck later that evening with most of the gear still inside.
“We were really indebted to the other bands especially Organ Mountain High School, La Cueva, New Mexico State University, and UNM for all of their support and lending us equipment so that the band could go ahead and compete,” said Michael Woods, president of the Las Cruces HS Band Parent Association. “It looks like most of our stuff is here, a few things appear to have walked off but all in all, I think this is a pretty good way to end the day.”
Others were not as lucky. The Acoma Buffalo Dance Group was also the victim of thieves over the summer at a hotel near the airport. However, the thousands of dollars in jewelry, moccasins, and more haven’t been recovered, keeping them from performances.
“There is a lot of stuff in there we need,” said Wynema Garcia, a grandmother of the dancers. “It is not just for our group, but also for our traditional doings.”
APD says they’re seeing success, putting bait cars in those parking lots to catch the thieves. However, Vaidya says more needs to happen — like increased patrols.
“I think it gives them more reason to target that specific area,” said Vaidya. “We’ve learned that we have to take measures into our own hands to keep our guests and our staff safe.”
Since none of their stolen belongings were recovered, the Acoma Hopi dance group set up a GoFundMe account. They estimate about $15,000 to $20,000 of their belongings were stolen.