LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Authorities in southern New Mexico are stepping up patrols following a string of auto burglaries in Dona Ana County.

The sheriff’s office says five incidents involving eight vehicles were reported Wednesday by residents in an area near East Picacho Elementary School. All vehicles were reportedly left unlocked and were parked in a garage or driveway.

Detectives with Dona Ana County’s Criminal Investigations Division are working the cases. They say crimes of opportunity like these are the most preventable.

Sheriff Enrique Vigil says people have a right to feel safe in their neighborhoods but they must also stay vigilant.

Figures released this week by the FBI show that Dona Ana County saw 12 percent fewer reports of property crimes, burglaries, larceny incidents and motor vehicle thefts when compared to 2015 figures.

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