ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – How do you know your home is safe when you’re gone during the holidays? With the crime problem and the police officer shortage in Albuquerque, a lot of people here are turning to private security to make sure they don’t get scrooged.
Seeing property crimes captured on home surveillance cameras again and again can be infuriating.
“The crime rate’s very high,” said Albuquerque resident Tom Rader. Criminals are taking advantage of an opportunity to target an empty home or property left unattended.
“I think it’s probably related a lot to the drugs, so then you get property crime, burglary, robbery, armed robbery,” Rader added.
This time of year, homeowners are not always around to keep an eye out but there is one group that is.
“We patrol the city, we respond to alarm calls, we respond to calls for service for clients,” explained Daniel Magetteri, Deputy Chief of Special Operations for the International Protective Service (IPS).
Magetteri isn’t a police officer, although he did serve 21 years with the Albuquerque Police Department. “I retired out of the SWAT team,” said Magetteri.
He and other retired law enforcement now patrol the city with the private security company, IPS.
“The main difference is not being sworn. Obviously we don’t have any arrest authority or anything like that, we have the same powers as any private citizen in the city,” Magetteri explained.
He does have law enforcement training and years of experience with APD. Now as a level-three security officer, Magetteri is armed and on alert.
“We fall under the same laws as everybody else, and that is the ability to protect ourselves, or anybody else from great bodily injury and or death.”
Just last month, Magetteri was first on scene responding to an alarm call when a man was breaking into cars at Car Crafters.
Dash cam video shows him spot the burglary suspect who initially tried to run. Magetteri was able to detain the suspect in handcuffs until APD officers showed up a short time later for the arrest.
“Right now our contribution to the community of Albuquerque is filling that gap you know, helping the police by responding to these alarm calls,” said Magetteri.
This holiday season, business has really picked up. With a police officer shortage in Albuquerque, it turns out more and more people are hiring private security teams to watch out for their homes.
Four Hills resident Tom Rader is one of them.
“It’s unfortunate that you have to subscribe to something like a private security service but it’s reality, and it’s nice to have that option,” Rader said.
“This time of year the holidays, the amount of vacation checks that we do more than double,” said Magetteri.
For IPS, that means more neighborhood patrols, checking in on homes when people are out of town, even picking up packages so the thieves aren’t tempted.
Albuquerque Police Officer Simon Drobik said APD appreciates the extra eyes and ears in the community. “I think it’s just a need,” explained Drobik. “I mean the security officers are filling a need and filling in the gaps. We’re thankful that they’re out there, they’re filling that void that we can’t fill.”
Adding more officers to APD is something the new mayor vows he’s working on.
But for people like Rader, hiring private security gives him peace of mind. He’s called IPS twice, and both times he says the response was quick.
“It’s really a comfort to know that someone had my back,” Rader explained. Wanting to feeling safe in your own home is something all of us can relate to.
While security officers can’t arrest anyone, they can detain someone for police if they catch them committing a crime.
IPS started in 2007. According to its founder, even though IPS security officers are highly trained and armed, none of them have had to fire a weapon yet.