New Mexico added about 58,000 people to its population ranks, growing by less than three percent between the 2010 and 2020 Census reports. While that’s the state’s slowest growth rate since 1910, it seems likely many more people may be interested in moving to New Mexico.
Whether they rent or buy, everyone wants to know they’re making a smart decision when it comes to how much risk they’re under from property crime. Unfortunately, New Mexico remains a hotspot of crimes like burglary and auto theft.
Which areas of the state have the highest and lowest rates, and how has property crime changed in New Mexico over the past 10 years?
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At A Glance:
- With #1 being the best, New Mexico is ranked #49 for property crime out of 50 states + Washington, D.C.
- You have a 3.11% chance of being a property crime victim in New Mexico in the next 12 months.
- New Mexico’s property crime rate is 48% higher than the average crime rate in the United States.
- Taos Ski Valley has the highest property crime rate in New Mexico (72.5 incidents per 1,000 people).
- Taos Ski Valley is a ski resort community where fewer than 70 people reside permanently. Tourism is the village’s main industry, accounting for an estimated $45 million in the average year. Its tiny population and constant influx of visitors are to blame for the village’s high property crime rate.
New Mexico has the third-highest average property crime rate, with only the District of Columbia and Louisiana having higher rates. Setting aside D.C., which is best compared to other cities when it comes to crime rates, that means New Mexico’s property crime rate is second-highest among all the states, and it’s less than half a point behind Louisiana.
New Mexico’s Most Current Property Crime Rates (2019)
- Rate of Property Crime
- New Mexico average:: 13.1 crimes per 1,000 people
- National average: 21.1 crimes per 1,000 people
While it’s unquestionably bad news that New Mexico has one of the nation’s highest property crime rates, the state has made improvements. Since 2010, property crime has dropped by about nine percent in New Mexico, which is one of the smallest declines. But from the high-water mark of 2016, property crime is down by more than 20 percent in New Mexico.
New Mexico’s Overall Property Crime Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Average Rate of Property Crime:
- New Mexico 10-year average: 35.94 crimes per 1,000 people
- National 10-year average: 25.61 crimes per 1,000 people
- -9% Has property crime increased or decreased during this time?
- There was a 9% decrease in property crime in New Mexico from 2010 as compared to 2019.
- 2016 Which year had the highest rate of property crime in New Mexico?:
- The highest rate of property crime in New Mexico was 2016 (39.3 crimes per 1,000 people)
- 2019 Which year had the lowest rate of property crime in New Mexico?:
- The lowest rate of property crime in New Mexico was 2019 (31.1 crimes per 1,000 people)
What incidents fall under the umbrella of property crime? Burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson are the four major property crime categories reported by the FBI. In every case, if the incident involves violence or threats of violence, it no longer is a property crime and is classified as a violent crime.
New Mexico’s Property Crime Category Trends (2010 – 2019)
- Which type of property crime occurred the most in New Mexico over the past decade?
- Larceny occurred more than any other property crime at a rate of 23.2 crimes per 1,000 people.
- Average property crime rate by category
- Average burglary rate: 9.0 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average larceny rate: 23.2 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average vehicle crime rate: 3.8 crimes per 1,000 people
- Average arson rate: 0.13 crimes per 1,000 people
- Note: There were no FBI estimates for arson rates, so we used all available data that was reported by individual cities in New Mexico.
- +68% Which types of property crime have increased during this time period?
- The rate of vehicle theft in New Mexico rose by 68% over the past 10 years.
- -49% Which types of property crime have decreased during this time period?
- Arson rates fell the most, dropping 49%.
New Mexico holds the dubious distinction of having high rates of property crime as well as violent crime, ranking third in both categories. Understanding why crime tends to be more common in New Mexico than most other states is much more complex, though most researchers tend to tie it to socioeconomic and other issues.
In some cases, those connections bear out. For example, more than 18 percent of New Mexico’s residents live below the poverty line, the third-highest rate in the U.S., while just over eight percent of people were unemployed in April 2021, also among the highest rates in the country.
Paul Guerin, a researcher at the Center for Applied Research and Analysis also threw in another potential factor leading to higher crime rates in New Mexico: the confluence of major interstate highways that crisscross the state.
Correlating national or even state-level factors is only useful to a point. That’s because crime is an intensely local phenomenon, and in a geographically vast state like New Mexico, those differences are even more stark.
Among cities that reported at least one property crime, rates are lowest in Milan and Dexter (about one incident per 1,000 people), though the two towns are about four hours apart. Meanwhile, Taos Ski Valley and Taos, only about 18 miles apart, have two of the highest rates, both more than 50 times higher than the rates in Milan and Dexter.
Top 5: Best Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data)*:
- Milan, New Mexico (Cibola County)
- Dexter, New Mexico (Chaves County)
- Cuba, New Mexico (Sandoval County)
- Clayton, New Mexico (Union County)
- Texico, New Mexico (Curry County)
Bottom 5: Worst Property Crime Rates (based on 2019 data):
- Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico (Taos County)
- Gallup, New Mexico (McKinley)
- Taos, New Mexico (Taos County)
- Belen, New Mexico (Valencia County)
- Deming, New Mexico (Luna County)
* Excludes cities with zero property crime reported