Is New Mexico’s organized retail crime law making a difference?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new law lets prosecutors add up the value of stolen items regardless of where it was stolen – making repeated smaller shoplifting charges into a more serious crime.

So is it making a difference?

Christina Ephrim is the latest serial shoplifter in Albuquerque to be charged under the new law.

“There was enough investigation to determine that she had involvement in – at least – 50 more other retail theft crimes throughout the city,” Ephrim said.

Since the new law went into effect in late June, 23 people have been charged.

Some have yet to be arrested – but of the nearly two dozen, prosecutors have filed motions to keep five suspects from getting out of jail.

Two of the accused Walgreens liquor thieves, Nathan Castillo and Joshua Peralto, have been held in jail.

Rebecca Statkus, who is accused of 15 different shoplifting crimes, is also being held until her trial.

The challenge for prosecutors has always been proving a non-violent crime could be considered dangerous, and that there are no conditions that could keep the community safe.

Police suspect Ephrim has stolen upwards of $60,000 of mostly laundry detergent, like Tide Pods, to sell to someone who will resell them for a profit. However, because Tide Pods do not have serial codes, it’s hard to charge her under the law specifically targeting organized retail crime.