DNA and Surveillance Video Used to Catch Suspects
Albuquerque police arrested two men Wednesday who individually had been stealing precious metals from schools, homes and business over the past several months.
APD was able to make one of the arrests using DNA evidence and the other case was solved using surveillance footage taken from an Albuquerque Police Officer’s home.
The men, who detectives say were not working together, were arrested at their homes following a dual investigation.
Kenneth Abeyta, 53, and Robert Chavez, 28, were in custody Thursday at the Metropolitan Detention Center on various charges.
On Nov. 4, police were called to Blue Sky Distributing, 8724 Alameda Park Dr., after the owner noticed that the power to the business was not working. When he went outside, he saw that a large transformer power box had been broken into and cables had been cut. The business was able to obtain surveillance video that showed a man using a tow strap and a truck in attempt to pull wire out of the broken box. In addition, APD crime scene investigators found blood at the scene and DNA testing confirmed it belonged to Abeyta.
The same truck seen at the Blue Sky Distributing theft was also caught on video at Hope Christian School when wiring was also ripped out of their power transformer box on Nov. 19. APD detectives found the truck when they went to arrest Abeyta Wednesday at his home on Macbeth in Northeast Albuquerque. Abeyta is suspected in several other copper thefts and believed to be responsible for thousands of dollars in damages to victimized businesses in the Albuquerque area.
Police were able to bring Chavez into custody after he was caught on camera stealing sheet metal from a police officer’s home in the Northeast Heights. The officer had surveillance video of the crime and turned it over to property crimes detectives.
The next day, detectives distributed photos of the suspect on a private-public public partnership web site. Within an hour of the posting, Earth Day Metal Recyclers contacted police and reported that Chavez had sold the stolen metal to them.
“ Earth Day is a responsible community business partner, they responded to the inquiries by the Albuquerque Police Department in connection with the metal theft and assisted in the investigation.” APD Property Crimes Commander William Roseman said. “Recently developed relationships with the local recycler industry has grown into a partnership between the recyclers and law enforcement that allows for a more effective communication in stopping metal theft crimes.”
On July 1, new state laws were enacted to regulate metal recyclers and how they conduct business. The Albuquerque Police Department took the lead in the in developing policies, procedures and assist metal recyclers in complying with the regulations.