String of vandalism continues at migrant-friendly church in Albuquerque

New Mexico

Church that welcomes immigrants, LGBTQ community hit yet again

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — Glass companies are working double-time to keep up with the vandals and break-ins hitting Albuquerque, including a string of attacks on a local church. The Metropolitan Community Church near Wyoming and Lomas has been rocked by vandalism again.

Last Wednesday, KRQE reported about the attacks on the church, hit by vandals three times in less than a week, leaving four broken windows. Since then, vandals left two more shattered windows in the worship center overnight on Friday and Saturday, then pushed out a Plexiglas replacement window in the front door Monday night.

“When our congregation got here to worship at 10:30, there was glass all over the floor and people really snapped into reality that this is really happening,” said Andy Najar with Metropolitan Community Church. “People’s feelings are hurt. They’re shocked that this is happening and that it’s happening for so long.”

It’s crimes like these that have local glass companies scrambling to keep up. In addition to their regular installments of windows, some now have to schedule extra time into the work day for emergency replacements.

“It varies from day to day but we definitely have to schedule time,” said Jay Frinkman, co-owner and general manager of Mobile Screen and Glass. “There will be break-ins today, there will be break-ins tonight, we have to schedule time to be able to service these people that most of the time, are our customers.”

Mobile Screen and Glass says they’ve seen a rise in these cases. They get calls for replacements at all hours.

“We’ve been here for many, many years and through the years, there’s just been a steady increase of break-ins to the point where it actually takes up about 10-percent of our day. We have to schedule time to allow for customers, accounts that have been broken into during the night or even during the day,” said Frinkman. “It has become much of a percentage of our business whereas years ago, it was not.”

Other companies see it too. Across town, new doughnut and coffee shop Total Betty was hit by thieves Sunday night.

“For the glass to get replaced, it’s going to take a couple of days so we’re going to have it boarded up for a couple days until we can get the glass. They’re just a little behind, I guess,” said Alexis Dowling, owner of Total Betty. “I feel like it’s the nature of the beast. I was talking to the officer about it and he said it shouldn’t be that. And I was like, you’re right, it shouldn’t be. It’s really frustrating.”

The thieves made off with an empty cash drawer and a spare change jar but left their blood and plenty of damage to the new business behind. Dowling says to think twice about hitting small businesses.

“Think twice before a local business,” said Dowling. “We’re all in this community together and we’re all just trying to make it better.”

The glass repairman helping them declined to talk on camera but tells us he’s seen more and more cases lately. Affordable Glass and Mirror says they were called out to a Cedar Crest business three times just this weekend for broken windows. Mobile says vandals and thieves leave businesses with more than just broken glass.

“They’re taking something that they’re going to get $50 for but they probably leave a couple thousand dollars of damage in the wake,” said Frinkman. “They will be back, they have found a waterhole, so to speak.”

Metropolitan Community Church says they’re in the process of pricing cameras and windows, which takes funds away from the ministry, but they just want to know why they’re being targeted.

“At the seventh time, what can you say, what can you believe,” said Najar. “Now, I’m just thinking I really want to know who this person is and see how we can help them. Because obviously there’s something going on and if something or someone hurt them, we need to try and fix this because it’s getting to be real expensive for our church.”

Church officials say they’re known for welcoming members of the LGBTQ community and immigrants, and wonder if that’s what’s behind these attacks.

The church says Albuquerque Police and City Councilor Pat Davis have reached out offering to help and show them how to improve their security. KRQE, too, reached out to APD about the string of attacks on the church and they are looking into it.

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