Nine of the county’s best lost prevention officers were flown in last week to work with Albuquerque police detectives and Coronado Mall Security to bring down some of city’s largest retail thieves
Albuquerque— The three-day operation, which concluded late Friday, resulted in 38 arrests and the recovery of more than $3,500 in stolen property. One of those apprehended was Manuel Leyba, 38, who stole more than $12,000 worth of property from Coronado Mall retailers in the five days leading up to the operation. Additionally, the arrests cleared more than $20,000 worth of cases. The shoplifters taken into custody had victimized 23 stores inside Coronado Mall
“People look at shoplifting and they think it is a victimless crime,” Mayor Richard J. Berry said. “It’s not. These thieves have a profound impact on our local economy. Each dollar they steal, they take away gross receipt taxes from the taxpayer.”
Members of the Albuquerque Police Department’s recently Formed Organized Crime Unit and the Northeast Impact Team spent several weeks planning the operation with mall representatives and loss prevention officers. APD detectives identified more than 15 thieves who have been hitting local retailers. Most of them have been working in groups reselling the merchandise on the black market. The loss prevention officers came from stores such as the GAP and Victoria’s Secret. Fifteen APD detectives and four mall security officers were assigned to the operation.
APD detectives and loss prevention officers worked undercover inside stores posing as shoppers. They then watched thieves and followed them from store-to-store as they stole property. Some thieves stole from as many as seven stores before they were taken into custody. Similar operations will be ongoing in all of the city’s malls and retail centers throughout the summer.
“Now that school is out and there will be a lot of activity in the malls, Police Chief Ray Schultz said. “We want people to know that we will be out to looking for shoplifters this summer and thieves better think twice. The unsuspecting shopper in the corner of the store could be an Albuquerque police officer.”