Tijeras Senior Center roiled by scrapbook caper

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Floy Watson, 74, doesn’t deny she helped a friend take four scrapbooks and two craft books from the Tijeras Senior Center, or that she visited the center on March 6. But she does deny the acts constitutes larceny and trespassing.

Doris Lark, 71, said she began making the scrapbooks in question about three years ago when she joined the senior center. Since then she said she has used her own money to add pictures and decals to the books displaying memories of birthdays, parties and other events. Although she decided to leave the books at the center to avoid carrying them, she said she never intended to donate them permanently.

At the start of the year many items went missing from the center, leading Lark to believe it would be wise to take the books home. When Lark and Watson removed the books they were charged with stealing.

“Things had been disappearing from the center,” Lark said. “I thought I would take these home and when they find out who’s stealing I’ll bring them back.”

In a letter, Tijeras Mayor Gloria Chavez requested the pair return the scrapbooks to the Village Hall. When they did not reply, a follow-up letter stated they could not attend the senior center until the matter was resolved. Town Clerk Diane Klaus referred all questions to lawyer Wayne Bingham. Bingham would not comment on why the mayor believes the scrapbooks belong to the town and not to the woman who made them. In the incident report filed by a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy, the value of the photo albums is listed as zero.

“It’s up to the judge to decide now,” Bingham replied in answer to all questions.

The situation escalated when Watson ignored the letter and attended the center on March 6. She also said both she and Lark had visited the center two days earlier without consequence. Watson said she had not expected to be escorted off the premises by deputies.

“I was playing Mexican train (a dominoes game) when the police cars parked in front,” Watson said. “Everyone joked ‘ha-ha Floy, they’re here to get you’ but then they came in and the officers said ‘Floy? Come with us please.’”

The officers, in response to a call from Klaus, escorted Watson off the property and told her she was not allowed back.

Watson described the incident as humiliating and scary, adding that she feels close to a nervous breakdown. However, Watson said she will not back down.

“As far as committing larceny you can’t steal your own property if it has not been given,” Watson said. “It (the senior center) isn’t a fun place anymore. There seems to be an awful lot like harassment and intimidation.”

Lark and Watson said they have decided to sue the Village.