UNM auto thefts rise 28 percent in 2017

Journal file

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico’s auto theft problem has only grown worse.

The state’s largest university experienced 222 auto thefts or attempted auto thefts in 2017, according to a new crime report filed with the federal government. That’s up 28 percent from 2016.

UNM had more stolen cars in 2016 than any of the 11,000-plus postsecondary campuses that report data to the federal government under the Clery Act.

The university had initially reported 140 incidents in 2016, but last month acknowledged it had failed to include dozens of attempted auto thefts. It revised the number upward to 174

No other campus was even remotely close, with the University of South Carolina a distant second with 65 incidents.

It’s unclear how the 2017 figures will compare to other schools, since the U.S Department of Education has not put the latest national data online yet. The deadline for reporting is today.

Officials have cited UNM’s location in the heart of Albuquerque as one of the driving factors for its ranking. The metro area is grappling with its own auto theft epidemic, with the National Insurance Crime Bureau reporting the Albuquerque area had more auto thefts per capita in 2017 than anywhere else in the country.

UNM says it is trying to combat the problem with more lights and cameras on campus.

“We believe adding the cameras will aid law enforcement in apprehending offenders and make the campus a less attractive target for property thefts and other crimes,” UNM Police Chief Kevin McCabe wrote in a letter posted online with the report Monday. “We continue to aggressively patrol the parking lots and encourage students and staff to secure property in their vehicles trunk out of the view of offenders, to lock the doors to their rooms and offices and not to leave personnel property unattended.”

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The Clery Report includes crime data from the main campus; off-site properties owned or controlled by the institution and used for educational purposes; student residential facilities; and public streets and sidewalks adjacent to campus.

Eleven of UNM’s 222 auto thefts or attempted thefts occurred on the non-campus or public properties, according to the report.

The university’s new report also shows increases in several other categories.

UNM had 19 aggravated assaults in 2017, up from 12 the prior year. Burglaries rose to 39 from 28 — although that’s still lower than 2015 (49).

The university reported 19 rapes, up from 15 the year before.

Dating violence jumped to 29 incidents from 23, while stalking is up to 34 from 25.

There were 316 referrals for disciplinary action related to liquor laws, a 39 percent increase.


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