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Thieves steal costly cameras, priceless photos

Brett Berntsen
bberntsen@daily-times.com
A cellphone "selfie" shows Cara and Jonathan Urias at their wedding on Aug. 6 at the San Juan Country Club. Pictures of the event taken by professional photographer Shanice Gonzales were stolen.

FARMINGTON – A local photographer is seeking help in recovering thousands of dollars worth of stolen camera equipment, including memory cards containing priceless wedding pictures.

"I'm more devastated by the loss of the pictures than the cameras," said Shanice Gonzales, owner of Sublime Photography.

Gonzales said her entire arsenal of equipment, worth upwards of $7,000, was stolen from a vehicle in her Foothills neighborhood on Saturday night. She had photographed the wedding of Cara and Jonathan Urias during the day, and had yet to back up the pictures.

“We shot the whole thing, and I took video too,” Gonzales said. “It was such a beautiful ceremony.”

Cara Urias said she was heartbroken when Gonzales told her the cameras and videos had been stolen.

“We cried together,” Urias said. “You plan a wedding for months or even a year ahead of time, and the main thing you have to remember it by is the pictures.”

Urias said thankfully some guests captured images with cellphones, but she wanted to look back on the special event through professional-quality photographs and videos.

"It was the perfect day with the love of my life," she said. "I’ll only get that day once."

Gonzales and the Urias family have pooled together resources to offer a $1,000-reward for information leading to the return of the equipment and memory cards. The items were stolen from a rental car outside Gonzales’ home, located in a cul-de-sac at the end of Halls Way.

“That’s just not a place where that usually happens,” she said.

Gonzales was driving the rental after totaling her own car the week before.

“It’s been a rough couple weeks for me,” she said.

She said the automatic locks on the loaner car didn't always beep when activated, and she though she had locked the vehicle before leaving it overnight. Gonzales woke the next morning to discover her gear and her wallet were gone.

A single mother with a three-year-old daughter, Gonzales said she supports herself through the photography business in addition to working as a caregiver. She said she plans on renting cameras to shoot the remaining four weddings on her schedule this season, and will try and save money over the winter to replace the lost equipment.

In addition to Gonzales' case, Farmington Police Department spokeswoman Georgette Allen said there were four other reports of auto burglaries in the Foothills neighborhood over the weekend. The common thread between incidents involved unlocked vehicles, with thieves taking several laptop computers and wallets.

“These are crimes of opportunity,” Allen said.

Allen said that in addition to keeping valuables out of plain sight in vehicles, police recommend residents copy the serial numbers of valuables so officers can search for items in a data base established with local pawn shops.

Gonzales said she has called pawn shops across the Four Corners region as well. She asks people with any information on the stolen equipment to contact her through email at sublimephotographybyshanice@gmail.com.

Tips can also be submitted to the Farmington Police Department through its Facebook page in reference to case #16-48452.

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.