AR-15, $21K+ worth of police gear stolen from unlocked N.M. patrol car
A recently arrested shoplifter gave detectives a tip to their main suspect: a convicted felon who wanted to sell the items for drugs
By Ashley Silver
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A convicted felon reportedly stole more than $21,000 worth of police gear and an AR-15 from an unlocked New Mexico patrol car, leading to an active investigation to recover the items.
According to KRQE News, Officer Robert Archuleta’s first noticed several items were missing from his patrol car when he discovered one small detail was missing – a plate carrier. The vehicle had not yet been equipped with an alarm system, according to the officer.
“When I got in my unit, I first noticed that my plate carrier wasn’t there,” he explained to detectives.
This included his tactical vest, along with the plate that fits inside. He was also missing his AR-15, scope, laser target pointer, bean bag shotgun, pole camera, double flash bang, knife, radio headset, handheld radio, handcuffs and ammunition, KRQE reported. The stolen gear was worth about $21,800.
As the detectives were going door-to-door in the neighborhood, they received a phone call from officers who had arrested an accused shoplifter. The shoplifter, Jayden Wheeler, informed detectives that he knew where to find Archuleta’s AR-15. He eventually pointed to convicted felon Brandon Hinds, stating Hinds wanted to sell the police gear for drugs. He also pointed to another person, Aldo Vargas, as a second individual that was currently harboring a portion of the weapons in his hotel room.
Vargas was arrested and eventually admitted he had the officer’s gear, but claimed he did not know Hinds and he did not pay him for the items.
“It’s at my house,” he told the detectives. “It’s in the backyard in my – my white car. There’s a white lowrider in the back. It’s in trash bags.” The officers did find the items there, aside from a radio and laser pointer, which are still missing.
Vargas was charged with receiving stolen property and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Police later located and arrested Hinds on aggravated burglary for stealing Archuleta’s equipment.