Hobbsans are making it too easy for crimes to take place.
Hobbs Police Department administrators are shaking their heads in disappointment over the number of vehicle burglaries and thefts taking place. Not because of the amount of crimes, which stands at 12 auto burglaries and 15 auto thefts since Nov. 1 through Nov. 15, but because of how easy the crimes took place.
“Ten of the 11 vehicles broken into were unlocked,” said HPD Capt. Shane Blevins. “Eight took place in the owner’s driveway and the typical things stolen were firearms, jewelery, cash and credit cards.”
HPD crime analysts gathered data showing that of the 15 stolen vehicles, eight had keys in the vehicle, “or they were running,” said Blevins.
Three were motorcycles not requiring a key that were taken from the homeowner’s driveway. Four other vehicles were taken by people who the owners know.
“Those four were reported locked but the offenders are like cousins, brothers or friends,” Blevins said.
HPD data also showed the 19 auto burglaries that took place in October were all from unlocked vehicles. Of the 15 stolen vehicles, eight were left running with keys in the ignition, four stolen by friends or family and three were motorcycles and dirt bikes.
“In regard to (two) motorcycles, keep them locked in their garages or buy an anti-theft device that would go around a wheel,” Blevins said. “Or keep them in a spot that is more difficult than walking into a driveway and driving away.”
Blevins said HPD statistics show a rise in auto crimes within the past six months. Local social media posts state the crimes are part of an auto theft ring. Blevins said the randomness of the crimes and the availability of the vehicles suggests something else.
“In our opinion, this is not an auto theft ring,” Blevins said. “It’s a crime of opportunity. These crimes are due to the fact that residents are being more trusting of the public than they should be. They are just leaving their vehicles unlocked or just running.”
Blevins said earlier this week a vehicle was stolen because the owner left her vehicle running to deliver some food to a house around 5:45 p.m.
“She walked into the house to deliver the food and when she came out, her car was gone,” Blevins said. “Another theft was due to the owner leaving his keys in the car and unlocked. That took place around 7:30 p.m. These are people who walk by a see a car running and no one around it, so they are stealing it.”
Blevins admits 100 percent of all car thefts or burglaries can’t be solved by locking the doors. But it would definitely be helpful.
“We understand it’s cold, but losing your car is not worth the five minutes it takes to warm it up,” he said.
Blevins said HPD is recovering most of the stolen vehicles, albeit with some modifications.
“Unfortunately, most of them recovered are damaged,” Blevins said. “They may have flat tires, but we are finding some spray-painted a different color. As soon as they get them, the vehicles are spray-painted. As soon as we begin looking for a car, our officers will see one matching the description, but not the same color. The officers run the plate, find out its stolen, stop the vehicle and they discover it’s been spray-painted.”
Blevins said many of the stolen cars are taken by people HPD “deals a lot with.” Through the current revolving door of New Mexico’s court system, many of these people are released pending trial.
“They are often not considered a danger to the public and are released pending trial,” Blevins said.
Blevins said the colder weather’s direct affect on the rise of car crimes is also noticeable, but since the crimes have increased since the summer, the idea of people keeping their cars cooler is also a reason to leave them on and running.
“Another crime that is on the rise during the winter months is alcohol-related,” Blevins said. “So I’m talking about DWIs and domestic situations. People are stuck in the same house because it’s cold and won’t go outside. So those things, we see an increase of during the winter months.”