Police warn of springtime crime waves

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As the weather warms up in Valencia County, so goes up certain types of crime.

Auto burglaries and property crimes are at the top of the list of crimes that increase as the weather turns from frigid to pleasant, say county law enforcement officers.

"It's warmer, it's more comfortable to be outside," said Bosque Farms Police Chief Greg Jones. "When it's colder, it's less comfortable."

He said to always remember to lock doors and leave lights on at night or get motion sensor lights. Jones also said dogs, and even loud "attack" geese, make good watch animals.

"Nobody can sleep through a goose's noise," he said. "Dogs are very good if they bark and people need to pay attention to their dog's barking."

There's more activity with the warmer weather, so it's nicer for everyone to be out and about, including criminals, said Los Lunas Police Chief Roy Melnick.

He said the downturn in the economy has also caused a spike in property crimes and forcible entry went up this year.

Belen Police Chief Dan Robb said that because more people are moving about in the warm weather, they are leaving their homes unattended more often, as well as increasing their chances of forgetting to secure their vehicles or leaving valuables in their vehicles.

"There's more interaction between people, more people are out," said Robb. "They might leave their windows open, (so) there's more of a chance of leaving something of value in the car."

Melnick said that they also see an increase in domestic violence as the temperatures heat up, as well as illegal drug activity.

The chief said that they don't see much of an increase in DWI as it is a "year around problem," that they target 12 months out of the year.

However, Jones said his department does see an increase in DWI as well as violent crimes.

"As the temperatures rise, people's tempers rise," Jones said, adding that they see more partying as the season moves into summer, resulting in more alcohol consumption, which contributes to both DWI and violent crimes.

Valencia County Sheriff's Capt. Gary Hall said that along with an increase in property crimes, auto burglary and domestic violence, and with teens being out of school, there will probably be more partying among them resulting in more underage drinking.

Hall said they also see people over taxing themselves in the sun during the weekend, whether through yard work or partying, which he said causes people's tempers to shorten and can lead to domestic violence situations.

Hall's advice for people is to "pace themselves," and advised that there are three months of good warm weather so not to over do it on the first weekend.

He said people might be going to the lake and having too much fun and by the time they get home on Sunday, they are "sunburned and winding down" and thinking about being back at work on Monday, they get "tense."

Hall said it's also a good idea for people to remember to secure their valuables at the end of the day, such as their grills or patio furniture, which could be tempting to thieves if left out in the open.


-- Email the author at udavila@news-bulletin.com.