A suspected serial burglar that plagued the Albuquerque area for months was finally arrested on Dec. 14th, 2011, thanks to a local jewelry-buying center. Joseph Watts, 20, has been connected to dozens of residential burglaries in recent months, according to Albuquerque Police Department Sgt. Donovan Olvera.
In an interview with KRQE News 13, Romie Salem, owner of National Jewelry Buyers, described the chain of events. “Detectives initially contacted us and other local jewelry exchanges urging us to call immediately if the suspect entered our store. It was shocking to see the guy that was wanted walking in,” said Salem. “The last thing we want to do is buy anything that we know is stolen.”
Salem's wife recognized the suspect and stalled him by talking about the jewelry he had, while Salem quickly contacted police. Officers were on the scene within minutes.
“We take this very seriously and even personal,” cites Salem. “What if our house was next on his list? It's a community effort, and all of us must pitch in to get these criminals locked up.”
With gold and other precious metals skyrocketing in value, the gold-buying industry is booming with customers eager to sell their unwanted jewelry. “What we paid $250 for just a few years ago is now worth over $1,000,” explains Salem.
Unfortunately, high gold prices have also increased the temptation for thieves. “While I am confident that the overwhelming majority of our customers are the rightful owners of the jewelry they bring in,” says Salem, “it is undeniable that gold has indeed caught the eyes of criminals. We use great vigilance and work closely with police detectives to apprehend suspects. It is an ethical and moral issue for us more than anything.”
In addressing solutions to the problem, Salem believes that more stringent laws and regulations will do little to deter or apprehend criminals, and even less in recovering stolen property. “More government is not the answer,” insists Salem. “Prevention is the best medicine. We, as individuals and businesses, simply need to be more responsible. There are easy and practical solutions that will work better.”
Salem believes that consumer awareness about home security would reduce crime more than any laws and regulations ever could. Four specific tips that National Jewelry Buyers frequently advises its customers include: 1) Store valuables in a safe deposit box or well-hidden place(s) in home; 2) Lock doors and windows; 3) Install nighttime lights with motion sensors on each side of the house; and 4) Install a house alarm.
“We, as a business, must also shoulder the responsibility of working closely with police and using diligence when buying jewelry from the public. It really is a community effort based on common sense,” concludes Salem.
For more information on the serial burglar news story, visit: http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/suspected-burglar-linked-to-20--cases
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