Bill to address organized retail crime heads to Senate floor

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SANTA FE, N.M. – The legislative session ends Saturday, and lawmakers will have to pull off some long hours if they want to get to everything on the agenda. Among the issues we are still waiting to see some action on is retail crime.

House Bill 234 is trying to update a law that supporters say has been outpaced by organized retail crime. The bill lets prosecutors add up the value of stolen stuff regardless of where it was stolen – making repeated smaller shoplifting charges into a more serious crime.

“So what you’ll see is the same person going in and stealing $400 on one day, $400 on another day, and we can never hold that person fully accountable. What this bill allows us to do is aggregate those two and combine the total amount of merchandise stolen over a period of time,” said Sean Sullivan with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. 

This is on the Senate side, and the Finance Committee just passed it to the floor unanimously. 

HB 234 has a lot of support because it concerns the quality of life, and it’s more than just victimizing big box retailers, it impacts shoppers and employees.

“They’re having guns pulled on them, they’re having hammers pulled on them, they’re getting sprayed with mace, hit with stun guns. So what this bill is trying to recognize is that sort of danger and that sort of violence should not be an occupational hazard,” said Sullivan. 

Defense attorneys had argued the initial version of the bill was too broad, but there was some compromise to narrow it, so we expect this will move along without much objection.

The risk at this point is that a bill like this gets caught behind something controversial and dies because it runs out of time.

Track HB 234 during the legislative session.