How to protect your valuables while shopping. Wochit

Information could reduce auto and residential burglary


FARMINGTON — The holiday season can bring opportunities for thieves to identify possible targets for burglary, and law enforcement officials hope a few precautions will help prevent such crimes from occurring.

Some of the advice that Sgt. Roque Velarde, and community relations liaison and public information officer Georgette Allen of the Farmington Police Department shared during a Nov. 15 interview might sound like common sense.

But both said it's important to be mindful of such things to prevent theft and ensure public safety during the holiday season.

It could be as simple as remembering to hide valuables out of sight in a vehicle, locking the vehicle and taking the keys, Velarde said.

Between 2015 and 2016, there was an increase of 451 auto burglaries from 480 in 2015 to 931 burglaries in 2016, according to Farmington police.

Those figures have been shared in community watch meetings the department has presented across Farmington.

About 75 percent of the auto burglaries occurred with vehicles that had unlocked doors. Allen added it's important to not leave a vehicle running and unattended, even it's cold outside.

MORE: Police increasing efforts to promote neighborhood watch programs

Velarde gave an example of a person walking up and down the rows at a mall or shopping center parking lot, checking the door handles of vehicles to see if the vehicle is unlocked.

"If you're a thief, if the door is open, it's easy," Velarde said. "If it's locked, you may not do that, but if there is something valuable inside, you might break in."

Allen suggested that people making multiple purchases take a break from shopping and return home to unload the purchases.

If that is impractical, she suggested securing purchases in the trunk and relocating the vehicle to another part of the parking lot to throw off a potential thief who might be tracking your vehicle.

Keeping a wallet or purse secure is also something to be aware of.

"We'll take reports of people who left their purses in their shopping cart as they are looking through things," Velarde said. "It's an easy target when you have it exposed like that."

Shoppers are advised to park or walk in well-lit areas and avoid displaying large amounts of cash, according to Velarde.

MORE: Vehicle theft suspect arrested by police

Allen recommends not keeping every debit or credit card you own in your wallet or purse. That way, if your wallet or purse is stolen, you would still have a form of payment available, she said.

She also suggested keeping on hand a written copy of the phone numbers to the credit card company or bank so you can report the cards stolen.

There are several things people can do to help keep their home safe.

Carefully disposing of boxes that contained expensive items, including large-screen HDTVs, could be helpful so as to not tip off a thief that such items are inside a home to steal, Velarde said.

Having gifts or valuable items in view from a window could make a home an easy target for a burglar, Velarde said. Keeping them out of view of people who pass by is a safe strategy.

It is also recommended that people schedule the delivery of packages when they are home or arrange for it to be picked up in person to help prevent delivery theft.

Those traveling for the holidays are advised to keep their home's exterior lights on and use a timer to turn indoor lights on and off. They also are urged to arrange for a hold on newspaper and mail delivery to avoid having newspapers stack up outside the residence or have their mailbox become stuffed.

Residents also are advised to become familiar with their neighbors or download the NextDoor app to help keep their residence secure while they are out of town. The social network focuses on connecting neighbors for various activities, including the posting of information on suspicious activity.

One thing Velarde recommends is people writing down the serial number of high-value items and engraving them with your driver's license number.

That information could help law enforcement officials locate the items and prosecute the thief.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at


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