Law Enforcement Competitors Joining Forces To Reduce Auto Thefts

On March 21, 2018, it was announced at a joint press conference the Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police are joining forces to address the city’s and the county’s out of control auto theft rates.

It’s about time, it is long overdue, and we can expect positive results.

The initiative is called the “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort”.

The auto theft suppression effort will include tactical operations that combine technology, resources, manpower and intelligence from all three of the law enforcement agencies to arrest more suspects and recover more stolen vehicles.

The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) for the past two months has been concentrating on auto theft sting operations and those efforts will continue according to Interim Chief Michael Geier.

APD’s first auto theft sting of the year resulted in 22 felony arrests and 23 recovered vehicles and in the first two months of the year the APD recovered a total of 843 vehicles and made 137 arrests.

The Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Department (BCSO) auto theft unit and its “Fugitive Apprehension & Surveillance Team” will assist APD and the New Mexico State Police with joint operations.

The BCSO will participate in monthly tactical plans and will use marked patrol cars equipped with a GPS tracker that can be attached to a suspect’s vehicle.

The New Mexico State Police has assigned a lieutenant, a sergeant and four detectives to be part of an auto theft unit to work with APD and BCSO by running bait car operations, checking license plates and lending extra resources in the field.


According to FBI statistics, the overwhelming majority of auto thefts occur in Albuquerque.

Since 2013, Albuquerque has seen more than a three-fold increase in auto theft along with climbing rates of armed robbery, larceny and burglary.

In 2013, a total of 2,743 auto thefts were reported.

Last year, the number of auto thefts reported was 7,684, which was slightly down from 2016 when 7,710 vehicles were stolen.

In 2016 more than 10,000 vehicles were stolen in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County combined or more than 27 vehicles a day.

In 2016, the city accounted for about 65 percent of the stolen vehicles in the state and about 30 percent of the population.

In June, 2017, the National Insurance Crime Bureau declared Albuquerque “the auto theft capital of the nation” for its rate of auto thefts, with 1,114 vehicle thefts per 100,000 people.


The three premier and largest law enforcement agencies in the State of New Mexico are the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and the New Mexico State Police.

Over my career as a prosecutor as an Assistant Attorney General and as an Assistant District Attorney, I have worked and prosecuted many a case, both drug cases and violent crime cases, with all three agencies.

The taxpayers and voters of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County all pay for, in one form or another, to maintain all three law enfocement agencies.

All three of the agencies are in constant competition with each other for personnel, funding and resources from the State and Federal government.

All three law enforcement agencies are highly territorial in many respects and that is to be expected and also to be respected given the nature of law enforcement.

There are many times all three agencies do cooperate and collaborate with each other in cases, especially cases involving SWAT callouts, high profile emergencies such as school shootings, police officer involved shootings, and with tasks forces involving federal authorities.

However, the three law enforcement agencies normally do not work together to investigate day to day crime in that each law enforcement agency have their own cases to deal with exclusively.

When the Albuquerque Police Department, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and the New Mexico State Police work together, exchange data and coordinate resources for a common goal, without concern for what agency gets the recognition, the big winners are always the citizens all three protect.

The formation of “Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort” is a recognition by all three agencies just how much they need each other for the common good of serving and protecting the citizens of New Mexico.

The Bernalillo County Auto Theft Suppression Effort is the very first step in reducing our out of control auto theft rates.

If history is any indication of what can be accomplished with cooperation between all three agencies, we should see tangible results within in a year that all three agencies can take credit for and be very proud of and be appreciated for by the citizens of New Mexico.

For more of affects of auto theft see:

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.