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#abq4ward: Hotels are hotbeds for property crimes in Albuquerque

Brittany Costello
September 06, 2017 05:50 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- For some, the Land of Enchantment is a tourist destination -- from the Balloon Fiesta to State Fair, even light shopping.

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 “Just to come shopping and spend the weekend here, nothing to do in Clovis so we came over here to shop,” said Ruben Castaneda, a man who traveled to Albuquerque for the weekend. “You know, enjoy the weekend.”

For others, Albuquerque seems like a convenient place to stop on a cross-country trip.

"We're in the middle of moving from Utah,” said Jessica Romero, a woman just passing through New Mexico.

Then there's the many, like Lei Chavez, who have family that travel to the state.

“They were coming from Phoenix,” Chavez said. “They'd been hauling their Sea-Doos with them.”

What they all have in common? They all stopped at Albuquerque hotels. All of them are now victims of crime.

“These hotels, they're not protecting the people who come in from out of state," Chavez said. "People come here and they lose their life, everything they had in their truck.”

In July, Chavez's daughter brought her family, their U-Haul and trailer with two Sea-Doos to New Mexico, specifically the Hyatt Place hotel in northeast Albuquerque. After the very first night, their belongings were gone.

“I went there and said, 'how come you’re not protected?'" Chavez said. "They had a sign there which they didn't see --they came in late at night.”

She's referring to a sign attached to every light pole in the hotel parking lot. It’s a poster telling hotel guests it’s not responsible for any thefts that occur.

But beyond those words, those signs mean so much more. They’re an indication of a very serious problem.

“Criminals aren’t dumb,” said Tanner Tixier, a public information officer for APD. “They realize that you have a captive audience that typically doesn’t take all of their belongings in with them to their hotel and it’s an easy opportunity for them, which is why they tend to hit hotels.”

Around 50 hotels are listed on the Visit Albuquerque website. You'd think those recommendations would all be safe choices. But just about every single hotel listed has had at least one auto theft or burglary this year.

According to the crime mapping website within 500 feet of the Marriott in northeast Albuquerque, there have been at least 50 auto thefts or burglaries within the last five months.

“It's an issue," Tixier said. “The break-ins at hotels will be an issue so that’s why we're trying to address it immediately.”

APD is trying to crack down with operations targeting some of the harder hit areas, including a new plan they're rolling out.

“We're also trying to work smarter. We've got the hotels, trying to get them to register with the RTCC and the new scan operation that targets or lists security cameras in areas so we know where to go to pull good video of surveillance video,” Tixier said.

The scan operation would make it easier for officers to see which buildings or businesses have surveillance video.

Tixier said they're also trying to get hotels on APD's live video feed, something that could speed up investigations. But until some hard proof things are improving, Chavez has a strong message.

“Everyone traveling through New Mexico, if you’re passing through, doesn’t even bother to stop. Keep on going,” she said.

While she's telling visitors to stay away, Gilbert Montano, the chief of staff for the City of Albuquerque, said the crime spike isn't turning potential guests away.  In fact, he said tourism numbers are on the rise.

“Our numbers in our conventions are up. They're up I think from the last seven to eight years,” Montano said.

Even so, Chavez said the city should have a responsibility to guests choosing to spend their money here.

“I think our responsibility is to inform out of state travelers and people coming in on how wonderful Albuquerque is and how amazing the city that we have. We have wonderful sunshine, wonderful opportunities,” Montano said.

Credits

Brittany Costello

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

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