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Gun owned by former GOP chair stolen from unlocked car -- four times

J.R. Oppenheim
March 24, 2017 06:42 PM

On four separate occasions, a man allegedly entered the same unlocked vehicle at the same business office on Rio Grande Boulevard and stole a handgun each time.

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The victim in the case: a former gubernatorial candidate, U.S. senate candidate and New Mexico Republican Party chairman.

Allen Weh, the current CEO at CSI Aviation, reported to police that an individual stole a gun from an SUV on Sept. 19, according to a criminal complaint. It happened again on Sept. 22, Oct. 13 and Nov. 16.

Police charged the suspect, 19-year-old Daniel Sandoval, with aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, receiving stolen property and conspiracy. Sandoval is one of two people arrested for the September murder of an Albuquerque deacon.

Weh accepted some responsibility for leaving his guns in an unsecured place, but he also pointed blame to the current criminal justice system.

"Some of it was my own stupidity. I left my car unlocked. I should have locked it," Weh told KOB on Friday. "… But what really bothers me is the criminal activity in this community that's gone on and allowed to take place by judges. It's got to end."

Police say Lee stole the same type of gun in each alleged incident, a Smith & Wesson 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun. Every time, the criminal complaint states, police found no indication the suspect forced his way into the SUV and believe it was left unlocked.

After the third theft, CSI installed security cameras. The criminal complaint states Weh saw someone suspicious in the parking lot walk toward his vehicle. When Weh went to confront him, the suspect grabbed the recently stolen gun and pointed it at Weh "in a threatening manner," according to the police report.

At that point, Weh stopped raised his hands before the suspect ran to a getaway car and took off.

"That wasn't the first time I've ever looked down the long end of a gun," Weh said. "But the fact of the matter is, you don't expect it in your own parking lot."

An officer recognized the suspect in the video as Sandoval, a known gang member, the criminal complaint states.

Weh chaired the Republican Party of New Mexico from 2004 to 2008. He ran in the Republican primary race for governor in 2010 but lost to eventual winner Susana Martinez. He won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate four years later but lost to Democratic incumbent Tom Udall.

In the past, Weh has gone on the record as a firm supporter of the Second Amendment. This incident does not change his opinions on the matter.

"Bad people will always find a way to get guns, so this shouldn't be a concern where we got to," he said. "This goes back to the gun control issue and I'm a believer in not letting felons have access to weapons. But if they'll come steal from me, they'll come break in your car. They're going to find a way to get a weapon."

Credits

J.R. Oppenheim

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

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