BCSO announces retail crime plan as holiday shopping season begins
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A major metro law enforcement agency announced plans to stop holiday shoplifters Monday.
Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen made it clear his agency will continue to have a strong presence around the metro.
“We just don’t want to be here for the holiday season. We don’t just want to be up here for a press conference,” said Allen.
Allen is talking about deputies patrolling during the holiday shopping season. Retail theft has been a major concern in the metro, with several law enforcement agencies working to stop it.
This summer, Albuquerque police ran Operation Sticky Fingers. After four months, 196 people were charged.
Also, this summer, people saw another retailer– Kohls at Coronado Mall – close after retail theft became too big a problem.
“It’s just not about Coronado, it’s a bunch of the other businesses in the Bernalillo County that are shutting down because of crime, or they can’t make their business sustainable, or keep their employees safe,” Allen said.
Before it closed, Kohls had a lot of its merchandise locked away. Now, the sheriff’s office is targeting retail theft, especially for the holiday season.
“We have at least 12 to 16 further operations going into the new year, and that’s not even counting operations that we’ve done the last two weeks, and that will continue,” said Allen.
Allen says he won’t say where or when these operations will be, but says people can also help yourself not become a target.
“An example I will give you as you’re walking out of these doors, and you’ve shopped for the holiday season. Don’t be on your cell phone, talking, or texting. Make sure you know where your vehicle is, make sure it’s ready to be unlocked,” Allen said.
He says never leave shopping bags in your car and always pay attention to your surroundings.
This year, a new retail crime law went into effect in New Mexico. It stacks up misdemeanor shoplifting charges, so a person can be charged with a felony.
The sheriff says his office will keep arresting shoplifters, no matter what happens to them after that.
“We stay steadfast, no matter whether they’re released that night or in the morning, we do our job. The criminal justice system, that’s something that myself and DA Bregman have communication with,” said Allen.
Allen says if you see a shoplifter, you should be very careful and not try to confront them. Instead, call police and if you can, try to get a picture or video of the suspect.
Allen says that’s one major way witnesses can help law enforcement.