Students at the University of New Mexico’s Lobo Village apartments question their safety as 11 car thefts and break ins have occurred in the gated community since August of 2016.
Lobo Village is located a mile south of the University of New Mexico campus on Avenida Cesar Chavez. Owned by third party, American Campus. It has been open since fall 2011 and is the university’s largest housing complex with a code entry, fitness center, sand volleyball courts, resort-style pool, and other amenities. It has 864 rooms and caters to those at UNM and the local community college.
The apartment complex is a place of affordable student housing. Students are able to park their cars and take a shuttle to school, leaving their cars in the gated parking lot. There are many cars left unattended throughout large periods of the day, making it a target location for car theft. According to the University of New Mexico Police Department, 11 cars have been reported stolen from August of 2016 to March of 2017, compared to four car reported thefts that occurred Aug. 2015 to Aug. 2016. There has been a 275 percent increase with car theft at Lobo Village.
Lobo Village provides security guards to make sure there is no partying, misconduct, and they are in charge of only allowing residents and their guests into the complex. This safety also includes their cars. Each resident is given a parking sticker for the entire year along with a gate opener. One of the roles of the security guards is to check for the stickers to make sure only residents are parking at the complex.
After his car was stolen in January, UNM junior Carlos Acosta called Lobo Village security to check their cameras to see they caught the offender on tape. When the Lobo Village security got back to Acosta a week later, they said the person who took his truck came from within the gates, leaving Acosta with little information to go off of.
Acosta had walked out of his Lobo Village apartment Jan. 28 to find his truck stolen. Acosta said he was getting ready to leave to his grandparent’s house when he noticed his truck was not where he left it the previous night. Acosta went straight to the Lobo Village office to report his stolen truck. The security guards took down the basic information and looked at security cameras then told him to call the UNM police department, who again took down the basic information. The UNM police department told Acosta to call the Albuquerque Police Department where a more detailed report was taken.
“I wished the Lobo Village security and UNMPD were more helpful, I have been on my own most of the incident,” Acosta said. Acosta took some measures into his own hands and added his truck to a Facebook page dedicated to stolen vehicles around Albuquerque. He and his friends also posted and shared it to Instagram and Snapchat.
“If I would have known that this stuff happens regularly around Albuquerque I would have probably bought a bar lock for my truck,” Acosta said. It has been two months since the incident occurred and Acosta’s truck.
According to Lobo Village resident Jacob Maestas, if cars without proper registration are found at Lobo Village the cars can be ticketed or towed. Maestas said he has also seen a camera at the end of every building.
Maestas said he feels as though now the rules aren’t enforced as much.
“When Lobo Village first opened, students received a sticker that meant they could park at Lobo Village and security would only let guests in with a parking pass written by Lobo Village staff.”
“The contract signed by Lobo Village residents states the apartment is not responsible for any car thefts or burglaries,” Lobo Village resident advisor Alyssa Eres said. Although being in a gated community, many residents believed that they should hold some accountability for stolen or broken into vehicles.
“It would be better for students to have that comfort knowing they will try to help you out if your stuff gets stolen,” Acosta said after being asked if Lobo Village should be held accountable for stolen vehicles.
According to new data released by the FBI, New Mexico is ranked second in the nation for property crime and there is an average of 22 cars stolen everyday. Residents at the University feel as though Lobo Village should pay for higher security and more cameras around the facility.
“I also think they should be more responsive and alert people the moment they become aware of car thefts. They sweep it under the rug and we are in the dark only hearing it by word of mouth. Why have security if it doesn’t help,” Maestas said.
Residents have also reported seeing security guards playing chess instead of patrolling the area. General Manager Jessika Griego said that she will be addressing these concerns with her assistant general manager and security company and if residents notice these behaviors happening they should contact the office or an RA.
“If residents report these behaviors, it will help us get the proof we need in order to make sure it does not happen again,” Griego said. The reported lack of security has caused concern for not only students living at Lobo Village but their parents as well.
“Being a parent who helps pay for my child’s living arrangements while he attends school, I would hope the apartment security would be keeping my son and his belongings safe. College is expensive and I shouldn’t have to worry about replacing his car,” said a Antonia Rivera, parent of a UNM student who lives at Lobo Village.
Lobo Village brings in about five million dollars a year with rent being $550 a month per bedroom in a four bedroom apartment. This includes one bedroom with a personal bathroom and closet. The kitchen, living room, and laundry area are open to all four residents. “With all the revenue Lobo Village and their owner American Campus Housing is bringing in from rent, security should be tighter,” Acosta said.
“I think Lobo Village should train their guards better and have them motivated to do their job. It would be nice if there were guards located at each end of the complex instead of just the front entrance,” Rivera said.
Maestas, who pays for his rent himself, said security is fine during the day but feels security does not patrol during the night when needed the most. In the future he would like to see the community be safer and not only have security guards walking around the area but UNMPD driving around more at night.