Task force sets sights on auto theft problem
March 20, 2018 10:09 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico State Police, the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office spend time working together, especially when it comes to emergency responses like SWAT calls or officer-involved shootings.
A new task force will look at that collaboration from an investigative standpoint -- recovering stolen cars, arresting offenders and fighting auto theft as a whole.
"Criminals are working together. We know they're stealing cars to do other crimes. We know that they network to be more successful at what they do. It's about time we did," NMSP Chief Pete Kassetas said Tuesday.
Over the last two weeks, state police have found seven stolen cars with its new auto theft unit. It's made up of a lieutenant, sergeant, and four agents and detectives.
"We're going to press this element until it leaves the city and this state," Kassetas said. "If we can't control it in Albuquerque, I lose control in rural New Mexico and I'm not willing to do that.”
They're already seeing major results. APD says in the first two months they've recovered 743 vehicles and made 137 arrests.
"We're also working with the district attorney's office to build stronger cases for prosecution," said APD Chief Michael Geier.
At least four more paralegals have joined the department to build stronger cases, Geier said.
"We identify the offender. We can follow them around, get warrants for them, pick them up," he said. "We also have technology as the sheriff mentioned. The star chase system. We have bait cars that have GPS tracking," Geier said.
The auto theft unit with BCSO alone recovered nearly 400 stolen vehicles and made nearly 450 arrests in the last 10 months.
"You have to address obviously crime from all sides, but the most recent theories and successes in other cities are based on the fact that auto theft is actually the connection to other crimes," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.
That means if they can stop people from stealing cars, they can stop people from using stolen cars to commit more crimes like robberies and even more violent offenses.
"We know it's a dangerous game, but it's a serious game," Kassestas said.
Updated: March 20, 2018 10:09 PM
Created: March 20, 2018 06:37 PM
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