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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
  Public Safety

True crimes

—Ty Belknap

  • On New Years Day, two Rio Rancho brothers, ages 18 and 19, allegedly smashed a bedroom window with a tire iron, entered a house on Northern Boulevard, went through drawers, and took an extra set of keys. They attempted to flee when confronted by the house sitter, but were arrested by Rio Rancho Police officers for residential burglary and criminal damage to property, and booked into the Sandoval County Detention Center.

    The same brothers were again arrested on January 15 when RRPD officers Lance Romero and Joe Rodella were dispatched to a house on Vancouver Road where they found the rear entry door to the garage smashed inward, but all entry doors to the house locked. Unlocking a door with a key provided by a neighbor, the officers found the brothers asleep on the living room floor. They told the officers that they were homeless and came in to stay warm. The criminal complaint states that one was carrying brass knuckles and the other was carrying drug paraphernalia. One brother could face more serious charges, because his size ten, white Nikes matched a shoe print on the door that was kicked in. The other’s size eleven, black Nikes had a totally different shoe print.
  • On January 17 at about 4:38 p.m., Bernalillo Police Department patrolman J. Thomson responded to a Be On The Lookout (BOLO) for a white sedan with multiple occupants in reference to a beer run that had just taken place at T & T Supermart. Officer Thomson observed the BOLO sedan at the intersection on US 550 and Hwy. 313 “which was sagging due to the number of occupants,” and attempted to pull the vehicle over at US 550 and South Hill Road. The driver of the vehicle failed to yield to Officer Thomson’s lights and siren and entered I-25 at the Exit 242 on-ramp. Thomson gave chase and called for backup before pulling the sedan over just south of Exit 240 where he was met by two other officers. All seven occupants of the sedan were detained “for officer safety.”

    The 22-year-old male driver told Officer Thomson that “he did not know what was going on and that the other subjects in the vehicle requested that he drive, because he was the sober one.” The driver allegedly showed signs of impairment and stated that he had consumed two beers. The driver was unable to keep his balance during the “walk and turn” test and gave up on his attempt to perform the “one leg stand” test. He subsequently failed a breath test, was booked into SCDC, and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated. The report does not mention what became of the other six occupants or the final outcome of the beer run.
  • On January 18, Bernalillo Police Department patrolman G. Reams observed a white pickup truck on US 550 with a glaring tail lamp. When he pulled the 39-year-old female driver over, he discovered that there was a warrant for the Albuquerque resident’s arrest from NM Adult Probation. When Officer Reams asked her if she had “any weapons, narcotics, or anything else that would hurt us,” the suspect stated, “there is a glass pipe in the driver side door with some syringes.” This proved to be true. Officers also found a digital scale. The driver was placed under arrest and booked into SCDC. A cavity search conducted at SCDC produced a plastic baggie containing one plastic straw, two baggies of methadone pills, one baggie of suboxone pills, one baggie of clonidine pills, four baggies of methamphetamine, and one baggie of black tar heroin. The suspect was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

To catch a metal thief

—Diane Kinderwater

Catching a thief could become easier with a bill sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chair Steve Neville of San Juan. We are not talking diamond thieves, but thieves who steal manhole covers and copper wire.

As the price of metal—such as copper, brass, steel, and aluminum—rises, the crime of ripping it off buildings, transformers, and even manhole coverings is on the rise in New Mexico as well as nationwide. The vandalism of these thieves is causing power outages, interruptions in telephone services, and costing the metal industry millions in lost production and damage to their facilities.

Senator Neville is sponsoring a bill to better regulate the recycled metal dealer industry and to give law enforcement better tools to catch the thieves.

“It is unbelievable how much damage a twenty dollar piece of wire that is stripped off of an electrical transformer can cost an industry, or how much stripping the wire out of new construction can cost a builder,” Senator Neville said. “We have to do all we can to stop these metal thieves. We have on board with this bill: law enforcement, industry, and the Regulation and Licensing Department—all the players who are so adversely impacted by these metal thieves.”

The bill tightens requirements when dealing with regulated materials (including bronze). It requires secondhand, or scrap metal, dealers to register with the New Mexico Department of Regulation and Licensing. Those dealers will be required to keep a record of any transactions involving regulated materials and to upload those transactions to a department database, which will be accessible to law enforcement.

Those small and rural dealers who do not deal in the regulated materials would not need to be registered or need to report transactions to the database.

There is a $300,000 appropriation in the bill to build a database for electronic records for two years.

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