I had involuntarily become a member of “My Vehicle Has Been Stolen More Than Once” chapter of the crime victims' club.
I didn’t join this club, but because I live in Albuquerque, I’m in it.
It’s the “I’m Yet Another Victim of Crime Club.”
It’s a club whose numbers are growing every day, and that is simply sad, pathetic and disgusting.
I realized I was a member of the club a few days ago when I pulled into an Uptown parking lot. As I was putting an anti-theft device on my car’s steering wheel, and disabling the clutch pedal with another device, I noticed that the woman in the car next to me was also immobilizing her steering wheel anti-theft device.
Strangely, I felt excited, got out of the car and waited for her to exit hers. When she did, I said something like, “You’ve got a club too!”
She nodded and said, “This car has been stolen twice.”
“So has mine!” I replied.
We compared vehicles and realized that we both owned 1997 Honda Civics, which is one of the most stolen cars in America, and that our cars have each been stolen twice.
“Did you put the club on?” she asked me.
I assured her that I did.
“It only takes a second for them to steal it,” she added.
Our encounter and conversation lasted 20 seconds at the most. Afterwards, I realized that I had involuntarily become a member of the “My Vehicle Has Been Stolen More Than Once” chapter of the crime victims’ club.
And I realized that more chapters are being created every day. Chapters like the “My Home Has Been Burglarized Three Times,” “My Business Has Been Hit Four Times,” and “I’ve Been Assaulted Five Times.”
That realization made me sick, and it made me angry.
Yeah, my car has been stolen twice. Once from in front of my office, and once from the parking lot of a radio station. I’ve been fortunate to get it back. I can’t afford a new car, not even a used one.
How many other people are there like me and the other two-time victim I met that day?
In 2016, the Albuquerque area became the auto theft capital of the nation. More than 10,000 cars were stolen here last year, and the rate of thefts – 1,114 per 100,000 people – is astronomical.
But it’s not just cars.
Crime is spiraling out of control, and is now the glue that is bonding Albuquerqueans together. It’s not neighborhood, not church, not sports; it’s crime. I’m guessing that pretty much everybody in this town has been a crime victim or knows someone who has.
It’s sad because we work hard for our stuff and it hurts deeply when someone steals your stuff. And it fuels anger, an anger that builds every time your property is taken.
In my 31 years here I’ve had two cars torched in front of my house, and two laptops, a kid’s bicycle and an aluminum extension ladder stolen. My home has been burglarized once, and earlier this year a thief walked off with my rototiller, which I later recovered on my own and with no help from the police.
I’m sick of people taking my stuff and messing with me.
But I’m even sicker of this city.
We’re in the midst of a massive crime wave and no one seems to care.
The mayor? You’d think he’d be shouting and screaming and doing everything possible to at least slow crime down. But R.J. seems paralyzed by incompetence.
You’d also think that our city councilors would be screaming and demanding that something be done immediately. But the Cowardly and Inept Nine either don’t think there’s a problem, they don’t care, or, as in the case of R.J., they are stunningly incompetent.
Oh, and then there’s R.J.’s big boosters, the NAIOP crowd of realtors and developers. The city is basically burning down and they just smile. They’ll stop smiling only when everyone else leaves this place and they realize that their city and other government contracts have dried up and that there are no more real estate commissions to be had.
What’s really sickening, though, is all of us. We’re basically under siege, our elected officials aren’t doing anything about it, and, well, neither are we.
We should be screaming from the rooftops, marching on City Hall and on councilors’ homes and offices with torches, pitchforks and baseball bats, filing recall petitions and laying down the law. And that law is that these worthless politicians – don’t ever call them leaders – serve us. And if they can’t get the job done and protect us, we must toss them out of office and make them get real jobs.
But most of us just cower and passively accept the abuse that is being heaped on us, and that is pathetic.
Where are all of you? Do you care? Have you quit? Do you like being victims? Do you enjoy being abused? Are you cowards? Do you enjoy barricading yourselves in your homes and apartments?
I’d like to think that the answers are “no,” but reality says something different.
So here’s some advice:
Stop cowering and start acting like free and empowered citizens. Scream and shout and march. Demand safety, demand it now, and demand it again and again until you get it.
If you don’t, you will slide further into abuse and bondage. And you’ll deserve it.