Police to increase efforts to curb retail crime in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Retail crime is about to carry a bigger penalty, and departments are ready to enforce it.

Albuquerque police is getting a head start on organizing efforts near Coronado and Cottonwood malls – and there’s a focus on transportation during this effort.

APD wanted to figure out how most suspects got to and from the businesses where they shoplifted. A number of them took a city bus or walked, and a much smaller number drove.

Police recovered about $7,000 in stolen merchandise and arrested 31 people during those Albuquerque mall sweeps. 

APD Chief Harold Medina said retail crime is contributing to the illegal drug trade, and is impacting the city’s overall quality of life.

“We are not delusional that we can always arrest and charge 100% of the offenders, but just like the other operations that chief does in certain time periods we want a zero tolerance and that’s what we did,” said APD Interim Commander Kyle Hartsock. 

APD pointed out 29 of those 31 offenders they arrested had outstanding warrants.

The repeat offenders who hit store after store is not specific to Albuquerque. KOB 4 received a new lapel camera from Roswell police to prove it.

This specific case we’re talking about involves more than just retail crime, there’s a home burglary, a stolen truck, and a police chase on top of retail crime that allowed officers to catch Sophia Solis. 

It started at the Hobby Lobby in Roswell when an armed security guard approached Solis after employees said she was acting suspicious. He spotted what he thought was a stolen bag full of jewelry.

“She purchased the black cowboy hat at which point I approached her, said ‘Ma’am you have to pay for that,’ she said ‘I came in with this bag, this is mine,’” said the security guard.

He said he followed Solis out– trying to get a hold of the bag. 

“When we got outside that’s when she started to grab me, at which point I pinned her against the wall and then pinned my body. She tried to bite my elbow, at which point I threw my elbow into her,” the security guard said.

The guard told police he peppered sprayed Solis twice before she took off. She reportedly left in a truck that was reported stolen a week earlier. 

Officers tracked down the truck in town, initially speeding at 85 mph. After an attempted traffic stop, New Mexico State Police stepped in with two sets of strips. 

After about 16 miles of chasing her in the wrong direction, Solis came to a stop.

Investigators say Solis told them she knew the owner of the truck was out of town, and she took the truck but “it has never been an issue in the past.”

Investigators believe she was under the influence because she was “all over the place” with her statements:

“I love you Donald Trump, no just kidding. This is for Donald Trump guys.”

The financial impact on the store in this case was minimal – but come July 1 – law enforcement will be able to start stacking retail crime charges against offenders like Solis, which could lead to bigger penalties.