ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – These days, most locals know someone affected by property crime. The National Insurance Crime Bureau Ranked Albuquerque number two last year for most auto thefts in the nation. Now, residents are fed up.
The probability of finding your stolen car or truck varies by state. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the national average is less than 50-percent. In Albuquerque, organizers say a group of about 5,000 locals are finding several stolen vehicles a week.
It’s become all too common in Albuquerque.
Sonja Arellano is one of many following the surge in property theft.
“I have a family friend who had two vehicles stolen within a month,” said Arellano.
But she didn’t think someone so close to her would become a victim.
“My sister texted me and was like, ‘was dad’s truck in the driveway because it’s stolen now?'”
Just like that, Arrellano’s father became another statistic.
“I was frustrated because my dad was in town for health issues,” said Sonja. “I was just like, ‘well. maybe I should — has my sister posted anything on Facebook?’ Because I have two sisters. My younger one –”
“That’s the first thing that entered your mind was Facebook?” asked KRQE News 13.
“It really was,” laughed Arellano.
This millennial knows the power of social media. She saw it first-hand on Albuquerque Stolen Vehicle Watch — a community-led Facebook group for locals to share information about stolen and potentially stolen cars and trucks.
“I’ve seen so much success with a good majority of them,” Arellano said.
That is exactly where she went — online.
“I think I got it posted around 1 p.m.,” she said.
“At around 2 o’clock, I noticed the truck there with the hood open. So I thought somebody broke down. An hour and a half later, I drove by there, the hood was still open,” said Albuquerque resident Felipe Candelaria.
Candelaria is also a member of Albuquerque Stolen Vehicle Watch.
“I thought about that website and I’m like, ‘hmm…maybe that thing is stolen,'” said Candelaria. “I didn’t walk all the way to it but I kinda zoomed in and took a picture and I posted it.”
Arellano received a notification right away.
“I was like, ‘I need to tell somebody!’ So, I got my sister on the phone and said, ‘tell mom and dad to check this out!'” Arellano said.
Her parents drove to the spot near Coors and Arenal to find little damage to their truck.
“That’s the fastest recovery I’ve ever heard of,” said Arellano.
Arellano says police told her parents they got lucky. But KRQE News 13 found multiple cases just like Sonja and Felipe’s where cars and trucks are recovered with the help of several thousand extra sets of eyes.
“At the end of a day, we are a community,” said Sonja.
“It made me feel real good, feel like I did a good deed,” Felipe said. “And I’ll do it again. If I see something, I’ll snap a picture if I can.”
Albuquerque police say they keep an eye on this page and others like it. They say this unity and watchfulness can help turn the city around, but they do not recommend you go out looking for vehicles or confront anyone who’s making off with one. They say many of these suspects are armed, repeat offenders who continue to rotate through the system.