(AP) Prosecutors in New Mexico’s largest metro area are taking over all cases involving retail theft including small-scale shoplifting, in efforts to enforce new state sanctions against coordinated retail crime.
Albuquerque-area District Attorney Sam Bregman and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday announced the approach to combatting retail crime.
Previously, police officers in the Albuquerque area often processed misdemeanor sanctions for shoplifting less than $500 worth of merchandise. Prosecutors say they can then consolidate related cases of retail theft over a 90-day period and possibly bring felony charges.
Lujan Grisham signed legislation in April to create a new category of “organized retail crime” and stiffen penalties for organized theft of store merchandize as retailers have highlighted losses from coordinated pilfering.
“People should be able to go to the store without being afraid. Business owners are also fed up,” said Bregman, announcing the new approach to prosecution. “We think these new changes will hold repeat shoplifters accountable.”
In New Mexico and beyond, major retailers are trying to curb theft while not angering shoppers as they lock up everyday items on display. A new federal law requires online marketplaces to verify high-volume sellers on their platforms amid heightened concerns about retail crime.
Lujan Grisham said the new approach across Bernalillo County will help ensure consistent and effective efforts to combat retail theft, and free up police officers to handle other public safety concerns.