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#abq4ward: Crime problem can cause psychological issues for community

Eddie Garcia
July 25, 2017 10:36 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Stolen property can be replaced, but what can't be replaced is a victim's peace of mind. When criminals strike, they cause ripples throughout the entire community.

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Take Rich Walters. He said he's been on two wheels since he was young, whether it be a bicycle or a motorcycle.

"I just like being out on the trails and up early when it's cool," he said. "I've traveled everywhere, and Albuquerque is one of the best places to ride."

His bike is his connection to nature. It has been ever since he was a kid growing up in Albuquerque. Then it was all taken away.

"I looked in the front door and the glass was knocked out in the front door, and I started wandering around and noticed all my bikes were gone," he said. "A little over $40,000 in bicycles; there were six of them."

Walters lives in a nice quiet corner of the far Northeast Heights and knows his neighbors. There was never any trouble, except for the last few years. The thieves found Walters and had been casing his house. Who knows for how long?

It didn't take long for law enforcement to find them.

"The guys that stole all my bikes, they had a laundry list of stuff. I mean huge," Walters said "They were making fake IDs. They did all this stuff -- guns, everything you can imagine -- and they just let them go. The judge says they're not a threat and lets them out."

That hasn't been sitting well with Walters: no peace of mind, no more freedom.

"Everything is locked up now, which is weird," he said. "Instead of just grabbing the bike and going for a ride now, it takes me, I don't know, an extra five minutes of dragging bikes down and undoing locks -- making sure they're locked."

Walters said this isn't the Albuquerque he grew up in.

"It's different now, for sure," he said. "There's a lot more crime. I mean there was crime back then, but not quite like this, not like what we have now."

It's not just the city that's different. He's different. He's had to change.

"I pay attention a lot more to who is around me, who is following me, who is driving around," he said.

He's spent thousands on security cameras, sensors, lights and signs. From a psychological aspect, his neighbors are also on guard. They're changing their behavior too, locking everything down

According to Dr. Mauricio Tohen, the chair of psychology at UNM, none of this is unexpected.

"We should not avoid taking precautions, when precautions are really needed," Tohen said. "I think it's important that there are times when taking precautions are actually the healthy thing to do.

Crime causes psychological ripples throughout an entire community, even within those who are not direct victims.

But when does worrying a natural concern about crime turn into something else? When it starts to affect your way of life, Tohen said. In the most extreme cases, victimization can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

"If you develop symptoms that you did not have before, such as anxiety or depression, that would be also an indication that you should seek professional help," he said.

Psychologists say if you feel like your quality of life has been affected and you are avoiding things you once enjoyed - to consider seeking professional counseling.

Credits

Eddie Garcia

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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