Detectives will be out in full force for the Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque - Thieves beware: cars, ipods, all-terrain vehicles and trailers at this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta could belong to the police department.
Mayor Richard J. Berry and Police Chief Ray Schultz announced Thursday that APD detectives will be utilizing new technology to bait items such as ipods, laptops and purses.
Previously APD baited just cars and trucks. This year, detectives will be targeting more than just car thieves. APD has also added a baited all-terrain vehicle and trailer to its arsenal.
“If a thief sees a purse or a laptop in a car, there is a good chance it belongs to us,” Mayor Berry said. “We don’t want people attending this year’s fiesta to have worry about whether their car or belongings are safe.”
APD has also recently doubled the number of bait cars and vehicles equipped with license plate readers in its fleet in time for the Fiesta. The readers can scan hundreds of plates within minutes to determine if they have been stolen or belong to someone who has a warrant. The bait vehicles, which have been donated by the various community groups, feature some of the most targeted vehicles of the year. APD will also make some of the bait vehicles appear to belong to chase crews.
The detectives will also be watching parking lots, hotels and the craft festival, which is held every year during the fiesta. They have a hydraulic lift to watch parking lots and an undercover bus they will be using as a watch vehicle to catch thieves in the act. Helicopters from APD, the New Mexico National Guard and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department will also be flying during the day and night looking for thieves.
APD has also formed a partnership with many of the hotels throughout the city. Hotels and Motels will be watching their lots and alerting police when they see something suspicious. The group has been meeting regularly with the police department to prepare for the fiesta.
Last year, there was not a single vehicle stolen from balloon fiesta parking lots or hotels targeted by APD. City wide there were 31 cars stolen during last year’s Fiesta, significantly less than a normal week in Albuquerque.
“We are hoping to improve upon last year’s success,” Chief Ray Schultz said. “Each year we add something new to combat property crime.”