Police address spike in auto burglaries

Law enforcement officials urge residents to lock their vehicles and avoid leaving valuables inside to deter thieves

Steve Garrison
Cars are seen parked along the street on Monday along Wellington Street in Farmington. Police are asking Farmington residents to lock their cars to defend against a rash of burglaries.

FARMINGTON — Police are urging local residents to lock their vehicles due to a sharp increase in reported automobile burglaries.

The Farmington Police Department has received 196 reports of vehicle break-ins between January and May, according to crime statistics provided by the department. Farmington police received 262 reports during that same period in 2015 and 106 reports during that period in 2014, the report states.

"It's a preventable crime," said Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy. "People that commit these types of crimes are opportunists. They are looking for those opportunities to get in with the least amount of noise."

In one police district, 78 percent of the vehicles burglarized were unlocked when the theft occurred, the report states.

Tracy urged residents to lock their vehicles and to refrain from leaving valuables in them. He also said residents should report suspicious individuals in their neighborhoods.

"There is no harm in us checking them out and making sure they are legitimately supposed to be there," he said.

One such tip led to the arrest in May of three men suspected of burglarizing vehicles in the area of Wellington Street. Police located in the men's vehicle a short-barrel shotgun and a .45-caliber pistol.

Police District 7, which includes portions of central and north Farmington, has reported the highest number of automobile burglaries during the past three years. District 5, which encompasses south and east Farmington, has reported the lowest number of incidents.

Cars fill a parking lot on Monday at a shopping center near East Main Street in Farmington. Police are asking Farmington residents to lock their cars to protect themselves against thieves.

Tracy said district 7 has a higher concentration of residential neighborhoods, which could explain why more vehicle burglaries occur there.

Tracy said that could also explain why the city experiences a significantly higher number of vehicle burglaries than the county, which reported only 24 vehicle break-ins between January and May, according to crime statistics provided by the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.