Thursday, March 09, 2017

NM Sheriff detective's business is well site crimes

Isolated oil and gas well sites can be enticing to criminals looking to loot valuable equipment, metal and product. Although San Juan County Sheriff's Office patrol deputies are usually the first to come across well site crime scenes, responsibility for investigating these cases usually falls on the desk of Detective Mike Sindelar with the Sheriff's Office Rural Crimes Unit. "The Rural Crimes Initiative started in 2006 because the industry had been suffering losses for decades," he said. "The Bureau of Land Management and those in the (oil and gas) industry came together to determine what program they could create that would address the problems." Sindelar said the Rural Crimes Initiative borrowed its framework from a Wise County, Texas, program called "Wise Eyes," which encourages cooperation among agencies and the public to help detect, report and solve such crimes. In the Rural Crimes Unit's first year of operation, Sindelar said, more than 500 oilfield crime cases were documented. "As we began working cases, though, we started noticing that the same 25 to 30 people in the county were responsible for 95 percent of the crimes," he said. "Most of them had either worked in the oilfield or were still employed in the oilfield. As we began arresting these individuals, we saw the cases start to come down." For the past five years, Sindelar said, the Sheriff's Office has averaged about 175 cases of well site crimes per year, a decrease he mostly attributes to getting the repeat offenders out of circulation...more

There it is - just the way FLPMA intended - and a model for policing federal lands across the West. Congressman Chaffetz, are paying attention!

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