State Sen. Bill O’Neill, D-Albuquerque, who grew up in a small Ohio college town, said Wednesday he’s still learning the lessons of city life. You could say he’s not a quick study.
Someone tried early Wednesday to steal a Volvo on loan to O’Neill after he left the key inside the vehicle. He had the loaner because his car had been stolen — again after he left the key inside.
“My friends just look at me and say, ‘Are you kidding? Again?'” O’Neill said in a telephone interview from the Senate floor.
A man who attempted to steal the Volvo fled on foot with $1,000 in cash from the car but left behind credit cards, family photos and legislative documents. “I tend to keep everything in my car, unfortunately,” O’Neill said.
The man tried to steal the Volvo from a gated lot at a “really nice” apartment complex on Santa Fe’s southside where O’Neill’s girlfriend lives, the senator said.
A neighbor was walking his dog about 2 a.m. when he noticed someone inside the Volvo.
The neighbor said he approached the Volvo, thinking it was O’Neill inside. The man inside threw the car in reverse and fled on foot with another man. The men then got into a nearby Pontiac Grand Prix parked nearby and left.
The Volvo was a temporary replacement for O’Neill’s Dodge Charger.
“My real car was stolen in Albuquerque a month ago, and it was getting a new transmission,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill said he had parked the Charger outside a FedEx office in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill for five minutes — unlocked and with the key inside. Police recovered it two hours later.
The senator said the incidents led him to agree to co-sponsor legislation, Senate Bill 139, meant to address the rise in auto thefts across the state.
The bill would require companies that recycle vehicles to report their vehicle purchases to the state Motor Vehicle Division within 48 hours and, with the use of a state database, to verify the vehicles were not stolen.
While O’Neill might have been short on cash Wednesday, he was not short on cars.
“I’m just so happy to have the car back,” the senator said. “And I’m going to get my other car back today.”
Justin Horwath can be reached at (505) 986-3017 or [email protected].