Albuquerque, N.M., which ranked as the top metro area in the nation for per-capital vehicle theft rates in 2016 and 2017, has thefts by 33% for the first nine months of 2018, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
In 2017, vehicle thefts increased 4.1% across the nation and Albuquerque experienced the greatest amount of 9,989 thefts per 100,000 population, according to NICB's annual "Hot Spots" report.
Albuquerque officials credit their steady improvement to using a multi-jurisdictional approach, as well as enhancing and increasing community policing efforts.
New Mexico lawmakers created a statewide Auto Theft Prevention Authority. The goal was to motivate law enforcement agencies in the state to work together.
A big hurdle was getting judges to crack down on repeat offenders, because car thieves were spending little time behind bars. At times, they repeated the same crime within 24 hours of their release. Cooperating agencies worked with the authority to identify 66 repeat auto thief offenders statewide and urged judges to rethink releasing them.
Tightening penalities for vehicle theft remains a key area of focus throughout New Mexico.
Other cities that ranked among the top five for vehicle thefts in 2017, according to the NICB report include Anchorage, Alaska (3,274); Pueblo, Colo. (1,353); Redding, Calif. (1,352); and St. Joseph, Mo. (952).