Convicted felons on cleaning duty may have accessed people's property

Updated: 09/04/2014 10:21 PM | Created: 09/04/2014 9:32 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

ALBUQUERQUE -- We all go to great lengths to make sure our homes are uniquely ours, and the people who enter do so only with permission.

KOB has found what appears to be proof of convicted felons on supervision inside people's homes without the homeowners' knowledge.

It's hard to say no to good help, and when the Bernalillo County Community Custody Program Clean Team washes cars and picks up litter, who would refuse?

"These are people who are living within our communities," said Tom Swisstack, Deputy County Manager of Bernalillo County. "They are our neighbors, and their charges could vary from shoplifting to burglary."

The CCP detail is made up of people who otherwise would be in jail. Instead, they serve their time by doing community service. The inmates wear GPS ankle bracelets that track every move they make.

A colored dot shows up on a map for the inmates' location every 30 seconds, and the map is tracked by administrators.

"By getting latitude and longitude, we were able to pinpoint up to five yards – between one and five yards – where this person was," Swisstack said.

When Swisstack reviewed plot maps of where the CCP clean team is each day, something struck him as concerning.

"We discovered that there were some infractions about our policies and procedures, that you shouldn't be cleaning private property, or in some cases, even being in people's homes."

The GPS plots showed convicted felons and people waiting for their day in court inside people's homes.

When KOB showed homeowners, they said they were shocked.

"It's like 500 percent concerning," one woman said. She pointed at a dot on the map. "This is my back bedroom…this is probably the middle part of my house right there. And this dot is the back bedroom, our master bedroom…they probably went through my stuff."

KOB asked another homeowner if he would allow supervised inmates on his property.

"No, not one of them," Santiago Maestas said. "I don't like anybody in my yard."

Maestas said he remembered seeing the work detail in July 2013 before going to work.

"That's kind of weird because we have closed-in gates," he said. "For them to get in…that's something we need to keep an eye on."

An idea that came about was that perhaps the work detail had gone into people's homes to use the bathroom, but it's unlikely since the detail travel with porta-potties at each site.

Swisstack commissioned an outside investigator to look into this, but is already questioning the level of supervision over the detail and working on plans for an overhaul.

"I don't know what happened or how they would have gotten inside," Swisstack said.

KOB will continue this investigation Sunday night, as MDC officials outfitted KOB Investigative Reporter Chris Ramirez with a GPS ankle monitoring device. Chris compared where he really was to where those dots on the map showed up – his findings are quite telling.

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