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Artesia man faces multiple charges after burglary spree

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An Artesia man faces more than a dozen criminal charges following a burglary spree that stretched from Feb. 13 to 26.

Around 5:30 a.m. Feb. 13, Artesia Police Department officers responded to Dollar General in the Abo Shopping Center in reference to a break-in.

Electric meters had been pulled from their sockets and phone lines cut at both that business and others in the shopping center, and Dollar General had been accessed via a broken window and prying on the main entrance door. Evidence of prying on a rear door of an adjacent business was also found, but that business was not accessed.

After rendering the alarm system inoperable, the suspect, later identified as Joshua Dean James, 35, of Artesia, forced entry into two display cases, removing numerous packs of cigarettes and five cell phones, along with three store scanners.

Damage to the building was estimated at $5,000, and value of damaged and stolen property inside the store was valued at a total of around $7,500.

On Feb. 14, just before 8 a.m., officers were dispatched to Plains Welding Supply, 203 N. First St., in reference to a burglary.

Employees arrived to find the business ransacked and without power; two electric meters had been removed from their sockets and the phone lines cut.

After accessing the location by using a pallet to scale a fence, the suspect, later identified as James, gained entry to the building by prying away the door’s outer skin and pushing in its inner skin.

Once inside, James pried open a locked drawer in the office area, removing $350 in petty cash, then filled a trash can with numerous hand tools, flashlights, power tools, and items of clothing. Those items were ultimately left behind.

APD officers encountered James in the early morning hours of Feb. 19, parked beside a dumpster at Tractor Supply Co. in a dark-colored, crew-cab 2014 F-150 pickup.

He informed police he was “dumpster diving” and stated he was homeless and living in the truck, which he claimed to have borrowed from a friend. Police had previously that evening found a junction box and electrical switch box tampered with at the business, a pair of wire cutters on the ground, and a backpack in the dumpster containing a variety of tools.

About 30 minutes later, an Eddy County Sheriff’s Office deputy made contact with James as he was parked in the lot of Gregg’s Foods.

The next day, Feb. 20, police received a report of a stolen 2014 F-150 crew-cab pickup from Artesia Ford Sales. The truck was removed from their lot on North First Street and valued at $35,000. The shop in which the keys for the truck had been stored was broken into Feb. 13, but a report was not made as staff did not notice anything was missing.

Artesia Ford additionally reported tools, matching those found in the Tractor Supply dumpster, as having been stolen the same night as the truck.

Artesia police were able to locate the vehicle Feb. 21 in the 2000 block of West Grand Avenue and were given permission by the owner of the residence near which it was parked – who was unaware who had parked the truck there – to remove it.

After obtaining a search warrant, officers discovered eight tires in the bed of the truck, along with other miscellaneous items. An Artesia Ford employee identified those items as having been taken from one of the business’ buildings in a burglary.

The pickup had been damaged in several places to the tune of an estimated $1,200.
A warrant for James’ arrest on charges of attempted burglary, possession of burglary tools, criminal damage to property, and receiving stolen property was subsequently issued, and he was taken into custody in Albuquerque.

According to police reports, during a March 6 interview, James told the APD he had damaged the truck in an attempt to remove what he thought was a tracking device, which was actually a satellite radio.

Charges of possession of stolen tires belonging to Artesia Ford, valued at $6,512, and damage to the Ford F-150, valued in excess of $1,000, were added.

He also confessed to burglarizing Dollar General and Plains Welding, and additional charges of two counts of burglary, two counts of larceny, and three counts of criminal damage to property were added.

According to reports, James told police he had wanted to get caught and that if he desired, he could commit burglaries undetected.

A day before James was interviewed, police received a report that a 2017 white Ford F-250 had been stolen from Artesia Ford.

During the interview, James told police he had been in that pickup at Tate Branch Dodge around 4:30 a.m. Feb. 16 when he was contacted by APD officers. He said he knew the truck to be stolen at the time and provided police with a false name.

The F-250 was recovered March 13 in Carlsbad, and James was charged with receiving stolen property.

James will appear for preliminary examination on 13 different charges at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in Artesia Magistrate Court.

He is also scheduled for pre-trial conference in Carlsbad Magistrate Court at 2 p.m. April 11 on a Jan. 17 criminal trespassing charge, to which he has entered a not-guilty plea, and is slated to appear for preliminary examination at 2 p.m. April 18 in Albuquerque Metropolitan Court on a charge of aggravated burglary (armed after entering) from Feb. 26 in that city.

James was additionally bound over to district court March 15 on January charges of possession of a controlled substance, use or possession of drug paraphernalia, speeding (21-25 mph), and improper equipment.

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