Serial shoplifting suspect appears in court

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Retail crime is impacting many businesses from mom-and-pop shops to big box stores. Now, the New Mexico attorney general’s office is working to crack down on what they call organized crime.

On Tuesday, prosecutors asked a judge to keep a serial shoplifting suspect locked up. That didn’t pan out, but the state is looking into other ways to hold these types of suspected crooks accountable.

Many businesses keep a close eye on what goes on inside the store. It’s how the state’s attorney general’s office got tipped off to about frequent Kohl’s shoplifting incidents in 2021.

Clippings from surveillance video prosecutors shows Gabriel Herrera and some of his associates shoplifting from various Kohl’s locations around Albuquerque.

Court documents allege multiple people go in with a get-away-car waiting.

“It got so bad that the attorney general’s office had to step in on Herrera this is not a small-time, but an organized retail criminal,” said Collin Brennan, a prosecutor on the case.

An organized operation documents said resulted in more than $4,000 in theft in just three incidents. A piece of a much bigger, billion dollar problem in New Mexico.

“He should be held without any bond,” said Brennan in a district court pretrial detention hearing.

Facing six different shoplifting charges, the fight to keep Herrera locked up ended pretty fast.

“The allegations in the immediate case are not violent. None of the three incidents charged here are there any allegations that Mr. Herrera involved any sort of violence,” said Deirdre Ewing, an attorney representing Herrera.

Herrera will be released from jail with a message from Judge Britt Baca-Miller.

“If you are continuing to be involved with the alleged co-defendants in this complaint, you will be caught, and you’re going to remain in custody,” she said.

For a crime the attorney general’s office says can and does quickly turn violent.

The organized retail crime unit is not letting up. 

A spokesperson with the attorney general’s office said they will continue to fight for tough penalties for these types of shoplifting cases.

A spokesperson said they hope this issue is addressed into the upcoming legislative session.