ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Car theft is a major problem in the metro, and Albuquerque Police have made it one of their priorities. They’ve gotten good at catching the thieves, but often times keeping them behind bars, is another matter.
The problem is so bad, APD has expanded their bait car program. But unlike in the bait car videos, real victims often don’t get to see who stole their cars, unless police catch them.
When they do, it’s often a familiar face.
“Personally, I’ve dealt with a young man who’s not even 20 years old yet, who in a four month period, I arrested twice for stealing a car, and in between my two arrests, he was arrested a third time,” explained officer Tanner Tixier, of the Albuquerque Police Department.
Tixier is referring to 19-year-old Michael Griego. His third arrest mentioned, was for not only stealing a car, but also having a stolen gun.
Griego has a lengthy rap-sheet for a teen.
“We’ve got a saying that you can only help those that want to help themselves,” said Tixier. “I can lecture that poor kid ’til I’m blue in the face, but if he’s not willing to listen to reason, or willing to change his life, then nothing I say is going to make a difference.”
There’s also Jeremy Chavez and Emily Peña, who were caught just Wednesday for stealing a truck and a motorcycle.
“This is Mr. Chavez’s third arrest in less than a year for stealing cars, and Mrs. Peña also has an extensive history of property crimes, including stealing cars,” said Tixier.
But it didn’t keep Peña from posting a $7,500 cash or surety bond Thursday to get out of jail, meaning she had to come up with $750.
“It’s just frustrating and it’s a little disheartening to know that we can arrest the same people over and over and over again,” said officer Tixier. “But until they start getting locked up and start having to face punishment for their actions, nothing is really going to change.”
News 13 tried to get some of the judges in these cases to explain what factors play into setting bonds for car thieves who keep ending up back in court.
A court spokesperson said bonds are based on the severity of the charges, and criminal history, and in some cases they’re predetermined before a suspect is seen by a judge.
It’s a system that often acts as a revolving door for car thieves.
“It’s just part of the system, we’re going to keep arresting the same people, and we just have to keep doing our job,” said Tixier.
Car theft is a third degree felony. It carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.