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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Crime spikes in South Lot area

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

A UNM Shuttle arrives at the South Lot to pick up students Monday afternoon. Rates of theft in and around South Campus parking lots have risen.

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The UNM Police Department has boosted patrol at south campus parking lots to combat theft in the area.

UNMPD public information officer Tim Stump said the department is warning the public of an increase in criminal activity in the area. Stump said the department first noticed an increase in auto burglary, auto theft and vehicle break-ins after officers reported repeated incidents during daily briefing meetings. At the meetings, officers give information about occurrences during their shifts, he said.

“Every shift that comes on gets information,” he said. “Cars were getting hit pretty regularly in South Lot or even in that general area.”

The south campus parking lots are located along Avenida Cesar Chavez, just east of the University Stadium.

Stump said the department noticed the increase in the last several months. He said UNMPD officers are hoping to catch perpetrators in order to reduce crime in and around the area.

“We always say, because we’re surrounded by the city, if they’re doing it there, they’re probably doing it close by everywhere else,” he said.

Athletics employees who regularly park in the lot are among those who reported incidents, Stump said.

“(Athletics) are the ones who usually call us if it gets out of hand because a lot of the time they’re the ones who will be parked there for a long period of time,” he said.

But UNMPD has also received reports from students who use the shuttle services around south campus, Stump said.

Jacob Hill, a freshman studying business who regularly parks in the south campus lot, said he has not experienced theft in the lot himself, but wouldn’t be surprised by crime in the area.

“It’s a very wide-open lot,” he said. “And there’s not much security at all, so I wouldn’t be that surprised.”

Andrew Kennedy, a freshman who studies business, said he wasn’t aware that theft was particularly prevalent in the south campus lot.

“I hear (theft) is a big problem around Albuquerque, but nowhere in particular,” he said.

Stump advises anyone who notices suspicious activity in the lots to immediately contact UNMPD. He said contacting the Albuquerque Police Department may result in a delayed response.

“If they’re out there they might think they need to call APD, but that’s our area,” he said. “If they call APD they’re wasting their time because then APD will call us. If they call us right away, it’s a better chance for us to get out there.”

UNMPD will take special care in the area until crime decreases, Stump said.

“Any time we see increased activity, that’s where we’ll direct our activities until it goes away,” he said.