Santa Fe police are continuing to investigate five armed robberies and a violent carjacking that have occurred in the city since Jan. 5.
No one has been arrested or charged in connection with any of the incidents, and the unsolved robberies have left some business owners concerned.
“As a business owner downtown, I do feel that crime has been on the rise, say for the last year, and I haven’t noticed any changes in the policing presence in the area, and I am concerned,” said Ken Kordich, owner of The Good Stuff store and coffee shop on San Francisco Street.
A clerk at the shop was robbed recently at knifepoint.
But Deputy Chief Paul Joye said the number of incidents so far this month is not much different than at this time in previous years.
There were eight robberies reported in January 2019, five in 2018, two in 2017 and six in 2016, he said.
Joye said the department has put together what he called an operation plan to supplement patrols across the city, including in the downtown area, where some of the robberies occurred.
Each of this month’s cases has been assigned to a detective in the Santa Fe Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit, Joye said, adding officers are reviewing surveillance video from places struck by robbers, as well as surrounding businesses, and are interviewing witnesses.
The first armed robbery reported this month was at IHOP, 3301 Cerrillos Road. A man waited near the back door of the restaurant Jan. 5 and followed an employee inside, held him at gunpoint and ordered him to open the restaurant’s safe, a police report said. When the employee told the robber he was unable to do so, the robber forced him to lie on his stomach while he held a second man at gunpoint.
That employee was able to open the safe and hand over money, according to the report.
Three days later, a robber struck The Good Stuff. Kordich said a detective had just spoken with him Monday about the Jan. 8 robbery. The length of time it took for the follow-up interview was frustrating, he said.
In that case, a man who had spent about 45 minutes looking at T-shirts, records and hats at the store pulled out a large knife, held it inches away from a clerk’s face and ordered her to give him money from the register, a police report said.
The man then forced the clerk to lock herself inside the store’s bathroom and warned her she would be shot if she called the police.
Eight days later, the Moxie jewelry store on East Palace Avenue was robbed.
Owner Mohamad Altheyab said an investigator also came by his store Monday to tell him the agency was still investigating that incident, in which a man armed with a knife stole nine rings worth more than $20,400, about $300 in cash and a watch.
The man had held a knife to Altheyab’s throat, he said.
The third robbery occurred later that same day, Jan. 16, when a man used a knife and a gun to hold up a woman working at Arcade News, 2821 Cerrillos Road.
According to a police report, the incident occurred around 10 p.m. The man had attempted to walk behind the store’s counter several times, the report said, and when the woman asked him to stop, he grabbed her and held a knife to her throat. Emergency medical technicians took the clerk to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where she received 12 stitches.
The two most recent incidents occurred Jan. 20, when a man brandishing a gun while wearing a white bandana over his face robbed Baskin-Robbins, 1841 Cerrillos Road.
The man stole the money from the cash register and demanded the employees give him car keys. One employee said she was dropped off at work that day, and the other refused to give them to him, a police report said. The robber then chased the woman with the keys around the store until she ran outside and called police.
The robber then carjacked a Nevada couple in a rented silver Ford Mustang, the report said.
A National Police Foundation report released last year said an officer shortage at the Santa Fe Police Department has affected every unit in the agency.
Joye said that is a concern, but the department actually added a detective to its Violent Crimes Unit at the end of 2019, bringing the number of investigators to five.
Kordich said he wants to see more community policing in the downtown area to prevent such crimes, and he believes having officers patrol on foot, rather than on bicycles or in their vehicles, would be helpful.