Rep. McQueen Wins Support of House to Prevent Theft in Evacuation Zones

Rep. McQueen Wins Support of House to Prevent Theft in Evacuation Zones

Santa Fe, NM - A bill that would work to prevent theft in evacuation zones is heading to the Senate. House Bill 32, sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Galisteo), would protect the property of New Mexicans who have to evacuate their homes during a natural disaster, by holding those that commit burglary in an evacuation zone accountable to a higher degree.

“This bill not only protects the property of those who evacuate due to an emergency, it also encourages people to follow evacuation warnings and leave their property instead of choosing to stay to protect their home, so first responders can focus on addressing the emergency. Our communities shouldn’t have to worry about property crime on top of dealing with a disaster,” said Rep. Matthew McQueen.

In 2016, the Dog Head Fire forced many of Rep. McQueen’s constituents to evacuate their homes. Upon touring the damage and meeting with families who were displaced, Rep. McQueen found that many of the evacuees had experienced property damage and theft during the evacuation. Theft in an evacuation zone is particularly dangerous, because those who enter an evacuation zone take first responders’ attention away from addressing the emergency. This bill will help address the concerns of Rep. McQueen’s constituents and protect the property of all New Mexicans affected by a disaster.

An evacuation zone is an area designated as a significant threat to public safety by local or state officials in response to a natural or industrial disaster.