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“Love Your Neighbor Project” Helps Victims of Property Crime

Friday’s Heroes: Officer Timothy Wolffbrandt, Telecommunications Operator John Walker, and Crime Scene Specialist Sarah Oates Good Samaritans: Francheska Bardacke and Michael Hendricks

September 22, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry recognized as Friday’s Heroes Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Officer Timothy Wolffbrandt, Telecommunications Operator John Walker, and Crime Scene Specialist Sarah Oates, as well as Assistant District Attorney Francheska Bardacke and attorney Michael Hendricks as Good Samaritans. This exceptionally kind group of professionals were awarded for their generous gifts and kind gestures for numerous victims of property crimes in the community.

In June 2016, while working in the Valley Area Command, Officer Wolffbrandt responded to a service call reporting that an 87-year-old woman’s television had been stolen. Upon arrival, the woman, Joanne Begay, explained to the officer that she was on a fixed income and was not able to purchase herself a new one. She went on to explain that while a TV was not much for most people, it kept her company because she was often alone. Officer Wolffbrandt moved with sympathy for Begay decided to find a way to help. After receiving approval from his supervisor, he left Begay’s home and purchased a brand new TV using his own money. When he returned to install it, he realized it would not work without an antenna. Because he knew the Telecommunications Operator Walker would be interested in also helping the woman, Officer Wolffbrandt asked if he would be able to buy her an antenna. Walker, who took the call, finished his shift, purchased the antenna, and returned to Begay’s home with Officer Wolffbrandt to help set up her new TV.

Five months later, Officer Wolffbrandt took another residential burglary call. Once at the victim’s residence, he learned that the 15-year-old daughter of the homeowner was the first to arrive home to find that her camera and laptop had been stolen. The pictures on the teenage aspiring photographer’s laptop were of great sentimental value. Officer Wolffbrandt contacted Walker and explained the young woman’s disposition. Again, the gentlemen were motivated to help the victim, this time involving Crime Scene Specialist Oates. The APD team combined their money to give the teenager a gift card for over $100 towards the purchase of a new camera.

This past February, Officer Wolffbrandt responded to a call where the victim, an expectant woman, reported that she and her husband had been burglarized twice in one week, with the second time being on her birthday. Moved again by the victims’ situation, Officer Wolffbrandt, Walker, and Oates decided to act, now enlisting the help of Assistant DA Bardacke. Collectively, the compassionate team gave the mom- and dad-to-be a gift card to help replace their stolen items. Additionally, they purchased party supplies and baked the woman a birthday cake. When DA’s Office Communications Director Michael Patrick learned about the group’s kind acts, he produced a YouTube video celebrating the events. APD has made available also on YouTube the lapel camera footage capturing the compassionate group’s good deeds. It was after helping the parents to be that the team coined the term “Love Your Neighbor Project” to memorialize their efforts.  

In a final example of their selflessness, last month, Officer Wolffbrandt responded to a call which took place at Seventh Day Adventist Church. Alejandro “Alex” Marquez reported to Officer Wolffbrandt that a thief had stolen approximately $9,000 worth of A/V and computer equipment, only leaving behind the church’s podium, which the thief had attempted but failed to steal, and the church’s piano. Officer Wolffbrandt, Walker, and Oates gave Alex a $130 gift card while Oates kindly baked cookies for the church. When Wolffbrandt’s wife, Lilly, explained to Hendricks, her employer at an attorney’s office, that the church had been burglarized, he also pitched in and gifted the church $100 to help them through their loss.

Officer Wolffbrandt explained that the “Love Your Neighbor Project” is not officially a program at APD but through word of mouth among the team of generous individuals, they have been able to support victims of property crime through difficult situations.

The team of the “Love Your Neighbor Project” has identified a strategy to elevate those affected by crime in order to help them through their experience of being victimized. It is for these reasons that APD’s Officer Timothy Wolffbrandt, Telecommunications Operator John Walker, and Crime Scene Specialist Sarah Oates were recognized as this week’s City of Albuquerque Friday’s Heroes, and Assistant District Attorney Francheska Bardacke and attorney Michael Hendricks were recognized as this week’s City of Albuquerque Good Samaritans.

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