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Top Property Crime Fugitive Arrested

The city’s top property crime fugitive was captured by U.S. Marshal’s Friday morning after a massive manhunt that included newspaper advertisements and electronic billboards.

Michael Candelaria was arrested at 3 a.m. Friday by the U.S. Marshal’s Office in the 200 block of Delmar. The Marshal’s Office was working off of a tip and was conducting surveillance on the address when they spotted Candelaria.

Candelaria was the first property crime offender to be featured on the city’s electronic billboard. He was also featured twice in the city’s Most Wanted Property Crime Offender Advertisement in the Albuquerque Journal. When Candelaria was arrested, he had changed his appearance by shaving his head and goatee.

In January Mayor Richard J. Berry announced his property crime initiative. One of the key components was to identify thieves like Candelaria by publishing their photos in newspapers, on billboards and in mall kiosks.

“Michael Candelaria has learned that Albuquerque is a bad place to be a criminal,” Mayor Berry said. “Let this be a lesson to the others out there. We are coming after you.”

Candelaria, a four-time convicted felon, had been wanted since Jan. 19 for fraud, forgery and identity theft. At the time the warrant was issued Candelaria was on probation stemming from a 2004 case in which he pled guilty to forging hundreds of driver’s licenses. Candelaria was also awaiting trial on two separate cases in District Court for burglary, fraud, forgery and identity theft.

According to District Court Records, Candelaria has been charged with a felony 12 different times in Albuquerque, Gallup, Los Lunas, Belen and Grants. He has been booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center 29 times since 1995.

“Michael Candelaria is an example of the revolving door we have seen time and time again,” Police Chief Ray Schultz said. “Hopefully now he will stay behind bars where he belongs.”

According to jail records, Candelaria was still in custody late Friday and was being held without bond. 33 of the city’s top property crime offenders have been captured since Mayor Berry launched his initiative.