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APD Forms New Section to Target Organized Thieves

Albuquerque— Stealing from department stores, banks, hotels and construction yards is going to get a lot less profitable for thieves who have made their living operating in organized crime groups.

Mayor Richard J. Berry and Police Chief Ray Schultz announced Monday, September 12, 2011 the formation of a new economic crimes section designed to catch thieves who target the same businesses over and over again and then turn a profit by selling the goods on eBay, and at flea markets. The section will also include the department’s white collar crimes and pawn shop units.

“These groups impact business, consumers, the economy and government,” Mayor Berry said. “We are going to go after not only the ones who steal and defraud, but also the ones who sell stolen goods on the black market.”

According to the Coalition Against Organized Retail Crime, crime groups steal more than $206 million in merchandise from New Mexico retail outlets each year. That accounts for more than $10 million in loss gross receipt taxes.

The new Economic Crimes Section will initially consist of six new detectives, a sergeant and a lieutenant. The new section will be a part of APD’s property crimes division.

The section will specifically target thieves who work together to target one particular retailer, construction company, hotel or bank. Already the section has arrested thieves who have stolen thousands of dollars in merchandise only to turn a profit by selling the goods at local flea markets. The new section will also target precious metal thefts, recyclers and illegal second-hand sales.

Last month, the new unit took Maria Cisneros into custody after investigators found ledgers in her home showing her paying off thieves to steal child’s clothing from department stores. The investigation revealed that Cisneros had a network of thieves working for her stealing from retailers around the Metro.  Cisneros then resold the items at flea markets. Investigators found shopping lists inside her home that she had given to her network of thieves.

“She was her own retail outlet,” said Sgt. Mizel Garcia, who oversees the new unit. “She was organized and knew how to turn a profit.”