Authorities seek to stem crime in New Mexico oilfields

In this April 24, 2015, file photo pumpjacks work in a field near Lovington, a city in Lea County, New Mexico. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in a New Mexico region that is rich in oil and gas say they have participated in a recent blitz targeting thefts and burglaries in the oilfields.

Eddy County Sheriff Mark Cage said detectives and deputies conducted an operation last week at various oilfields amid concerns over crime, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reports.

“With the increase in production activity, we have seen an increase in oilfield related theft,” Cage said.

Earlier this year, the Eddy County Sheriff’s office investigated an alleged theft from Concho Resources near Carlsbad. The estimated loss from 139 stolen barrels of crude oil was around $7,000.

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The sheriff’s office said an estimated $35,000 of oilfield equipment was allegedly stolen from Tiger Industrial in July 2018.

No arrests were made in either incident, according to the Sheriff’s office.

During the recent blitz, two people were served arrest warrants and one stolen vehicle was recovered, Cage said.

“We are working closely and aggressively with our industry partners to have an impact on this activity,” Cage said.

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Robert McEntyre, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said oil and gas properties in New Mexico are frequent targets of burglars and thieves.

“As New Mexico’s top industry, oil and gas assets are unfortunately targeted for criminal activity and it’s important for the industry and the community to remain vigilant against this threat,” McEntyre said.

He said thefts in the oilfields mean losses for everyone, including state and county governments that rely on revenue to fund multiple functions.

“Ultimately, thefts in the oilfield not only represent losses to operators and producers,” McEntyre said. “Thefts impede economic growth and development and only to serve to limit the potential for Eddy County and New Mexico.”