If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be comic, or at least so bizarre as to be improbable.
A horrible report on Jemez Springs appeared in today’s KRQE web page and TV news detailing a surge of burglaries and the circumstances surrounding them. The lovely peaceful village, hidden away from the crime-ridden centers of crime-ridden New Mexico is being publicized in the state as a center of a crime wave. Bizarre can be comic, but here it is tragic. Local residents have been stricken with repeated break-ins, often loosing not just valuables, but deeply treasured and irreplaceable family possessions.
The worst aspect of these incidents is that they cross over from simple acts to theft to acts of terror. The burglars have been known to enter homes and simply have their act documented and presence felt by moving objects around the house or raiding the refrigerator, but not actually rifling any property.
Where the situation becomes bizarre is that the Jemez Springs Police Chief Felix Nunez says he knows the identities and the whereabouts of the burglars and even releases that information to the media. Their names and imagers have been published, their location, somewhere in the “hills” overlooking Jemez Springs, is also more or less known.
Their names are also well known to many old residents of the village, and belong to families that have long lived in the Jemez Valley. They are whom the recently retired Police Chief Harry Betz would refer to as “the usual suspects”.
Chief Nunez presents an image of these evil characters, where they sit on “perches”, as he describes their observation points, in the high ground above the valley, presumably just below or on the mesa tops, and carefully observe life in the village. When they are certain that a resident has left their house for a while, they swoop down into the village and rummage around on the property. In one case they reportedly raided and burglarized a house when they observed a woman leave to attend the funeral of her husband.
It appears that the thieves are not just into enrichment and accumulation of other peoples possessions, but also, as Chief Nunez suggests, into intimidation. They raid people’s homes just to leave signs that they can enter at will, whenever they wish.
He also notes that they have stolen large numbers of weapons from people’s homes. That people keep lots weapons scattered around and easy to find is a sad thing, it is even sadder that these characters “perched” over the village now have them. One reason the police chief and his crew are not buzzing all over the “hills” in pursuit of the evildoers is that they don’t know “the kind of imminent danger” officers would be in, as he put it, if they found themselves in a confrontation with the heavily armed group.
There is an air of the “old days” about all this. Perhaps the village should hire a fearless Magnificent Seven to go up into the hills and flush these guys out.
Looking on the bright side this activity must surely be a seasonal one. Those perches up a hill will get pretty chilly as the seasons change, trips up and down icy slopes could be tricky, and bundled figures scampering with their swag to their lairs in a snowy landscape will be conspicuous.
Not a consolation for those already stricken by this evil.