ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a major problem around Albuquerque, a city ranked one of the worst places in the country for car theft.
KRQE News 13 sifted through the statistics for the top spots in town where vehicles are reported stolen.
It happens in an instant, and Albuquerque sees more car theft than almost any other city in the United States.
“You feel violated,” explained David Montoya, a downtown Albuquerque resident who recently had his car stolen.
The city of Albuquerque ranks second in the nation for the most vehicle thefts, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
“Having a car broken into and a car stolen here, no it doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Montoya.
But people like Montoya don’t need to hear it to know there’s a problem.
“First I look in the garage and everything was open, the car doors were open,” Montoya recalled walking into his garage a few months ago. “I said ‘holy cow, someone broke in.'”
Thieves had rifled through one of his cars and stole the other car right from his driveway. It put Montoya among the thousands who’ve had their car stolen in Albuquerque in just the last year.
Breakdown by Neighborhood:
The numbers are staggering. Just the last month, the city’s online crime map shows roughly 540 reports of stolen cars across Albuquerque.
“It’s sad, it’s desperate,” said Montoya.
“We’re seeing all types of reports whether it be somebody leaving their keys in the vehicle, a broken window and them getting access into the vehicle like that or warm-up thefts,” explained officer Fred Duran, of the Albuquerque Police Department.
But where is it happening the most? With the city’s crime mapping data, KRQE News 13 zeroed in on neighborhoods according to boundaries on the city’s neighborhood maps.
Uptown had one of the highest rates of car theft with 53 reported stolen vehicles there in the last month.
In Albuquerque’s upper Eastside, there were 91 reported stolen vehicles in the last month. However, that covers a lot of city blocks, from Wyoming all the way to both of Tramway’s north and east borders.
An even smaller part of town ranked high for stolen cars as well. In four weeks there were 71 stolen cars reported in the Midtown/University area. That’s about two to three stolen cars per day.
“When we get that type of information, we use that information to in order to put our officers in those areas,” said officer Duran.
APD statistics show officers took some of the most stolen car reports in January from places like the Embassy Suites near I-25 and Lomas, Presbyterian Hospital, and the Coronado Center. Each location had five stolen car reports in January.
Even though numbers show parts of town with more reports of stolen cars than others, APD and the city’s own crime map prove this problem is widespread.
A wide view of the city’s crime map for the month shows just how widespread stolen car reports span.
During winter months, there’s also been a big jump in unattended cars stolen while they’re warming up in people’s driveways, something officers call a crime of opportunity.
“That’s something we’ve been really hammering on lately,” explained officer Duran.
Three weeks ago, police said Elexus Groves and Paul Garcia stole a van as it was warming up in front of someone’s home. Detectives said the pair then crashed that stolen van into a family’s car, killing Sandia High School freshman, 14-year-old Shaylee Boling and her mother, Shaunna Arredondo-Boling.
Stolen cars used in other crimes, police said, is something officers are seeing often.
Montoya said he recently made the mistake of leaving his garage door opener in his Infiniti, which was parked in the driveway of his downtown home.
He suspects the thieves got a hold of it, opened his garage, then found the keys to his Infiniti. The car was gone when he woke up.
“It changes the way that you live your life and how attentive you are to your surroundings,” said Montoya. “You know, my head’s on a swivel.”
Carla Arellanes can relate. “I was in shock, I said ‘Oh my God, my mother’s favorite car!'”
Her mom’s Cadillac Seville was stolen a couple months ago from her daughter’s gated apartment complex in northeast Albuquerque.
Vehicle for more crime:
But there’s something else Arellanes, Montoya, and other victims have in common.
“It was involved in almost a dozen other burglaries,” said Montoya,” referring to his stolen Infiniti.
“I guess whoever was breaking into the homes had my car,” said Arellanes.
Both Arellanes and Montoya said authorities found their cars while investigating other crimes, namely home burglaries.
Montoya said once he recovered his car, it was clear his vehicle was used in other crimes. “There was guns, the car smelled like smoke.”
“There was so much methamphetamine in the interior and in the air of the car, that it was unsafe for the body shop employees to even work on it,” Montoya added.
He said he no longer felt comfortable getting behind the wheel of his own car.
In Arellanes’ case, she said officers found a sawed-off shotgun in her car, and a pillow case full of jewelry.
“There was I would say about 20 sets of different car keys,” Arellanes added.
In her case, the thieves got away.
Montoya said it was teens found in his car and they were arrested.
But today, the retired Air Force Veteran is taking more precautions.
“Really I haven’t touched a gun since I was in the service, and now I own several,” Montoya told KRQE News 13.
Protecting his family is top priority.
Protecting your property:
Police say you can also protect your car with an alarm, deterrents such as steering wheel and brake locks, surveillance cameras at your home, and leaving items out of sight.
Knowing how fast and how often cars are stolen, people like Montoya are still convinced criminals won’t get the best of their city.
“It’s one of those things you take the good with the bad, and the good definitely outweighs the bad,” said Montoya. “You know, I love the city.”
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau 2015 report, the number one stolen vehicle in the state is the Honda Civic. Number two is the Ford pickup, a truck APD said officers have seen stolen a lot.
- Honda Civic 1998
- Ford Pickup (Full Size) 2006
- Honda Accord 1994
- Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) 2006
- Dodge Pickup (Full Size) 2003
- GMC Pickup (Full Size) 2006
- Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee 1994
- Toyota Camry 1999
- Chevrolet Pickup (Small Size) 1998
- Chevrolet Impala 2005