ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department’s new program aimed at catching suspected burglars has led to more than a dozen arrests in its first year.
In a spinoff to the successful bait car program, APD since last June has wired half a dozen homes with cameras and stocked them with commonly stolen items that are installed with GPS trackers.
“We baited a house here in the Southeast in which there’s been an excess of ten residential burglaries that we’ve apprehended through the bait program,” said APD Sgt. Joe Burke.
Burke said victims of home burglaries contacted APD and volunteered their homes for the program.
“We keep in contact with these individuals, and they’ve had no problems in the last three or four months,” Burke said.
According to crime mapping data, Albuquerque has had more than 800 reported residential and commercial burglaries this year. Burke said home burglaries increase in the spring and summer months.
“Windows are left down. Windows are open in homes The crimes of opportunity occur because people forget to shut their doors or not lock their doors because they have them open and stuff like that,” Burke said.
APD hopes baiting houses will stop burglars.
KRQE News 13 obtained bait house videos from late last year that show suspects breaking into homes at all hours of the day. Some are in and out of the house in under a minute, while others take their time. One man was even caught on camera having sex in full view of APD’s cameras.
“Once you see a handful of them, you kind of expect something ridiculous is going to happen,” Burke said.
APD officers are alerted once someone breaks into a bait home. Officers then are able to arrest suspects using GPS to track down the stolen merchandise.
“We wanted to be proactive in our approach to attack the problem,” said Burke. “I think there is an underground network of residential burglaries, and they let people know. They know individuals have been arrested repetitively from a certain location, and it kind of spreads word of mouth.”
The suspects are facing charges ranging from residential burglary to larceny. Most are still awaiting trial. One woman has been convicted of burglary.
Criminal defense attorneys said the video evidence is hard to get past.
“I would say it’s pretty open and shut,” said Ousama Rasheed, former president of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. “It’s not a fun case (for defense attorneys), but I think it is effective police work.”
Burke said APD currently has bait homes that officers are monitoring. He said the department will continue the program.
“This is, in my opinion, community policing at its best. We’re working together to solve a problem and to address a serious problem. People do not want their items stolen, and they want to feel safe in their homes. This is a great way to address that.”
If you would like to get connected with police about the bait house program, contact Sgt. Joe Burke at the Southeast Area Command by calling (505) 256-2050.