ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Aiming to crack down on shoplifting at retail stores that’s thought to be fueling other crimes, New Mexico law enforcement officials are inviting businesses to participate in a new criminal intelligence technology platform Wednesday. Alongside the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce is starting the “New Mexico Organized Retail Crime Association” with a new criminal intelligence database that hopes to help track and prosecute suspects.
According to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, the technology at the center of the partnership is software created by a company called “Auror.co.” The software is described as “an online interface used by retailers and law enforcement to track criminal activity and gather data in real time.”
So far, several big boxes stores have signed up to participate in the new database, including Home Depot, Koh’s Albertsons Safeway, Target and Walmart. The New Mexico Chamber of Commerce says it now wants small businesses to sign up.
The state attorney general says thieves can make more money stealing from businesses than they can selling drugs or guns. The attorney general, mayor of Albuquerque, law enforcement, and business leaders say retail crime is out of control, and they are demanding changes.
In an impassioned speech, the New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas called out the New Mexico Legislature for being ‘asleep at the wheel’ when it comes to tackling organized retail crime – Balderas saying it’s a problem that has cost New Mexico more than a billion dollars: “Am I clear to the general legislative and political community? It is more profitable now to go and steal from our local retailers than it is to sell drugs and guns in New Mexico.”
The CEO and president of the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce, Rob Black, announced New Mexico will become the 20th state to be a part of the online platform which will let the business community and law enforcement track and upload crime data in real-time. “Think about things like security footage. Cell phone picture of a suspect. A car license plate. That information can be uploaded by that retail partner into this platform and law enforcement will have immediate access to that information,” Black says.
The platform is one facet of the newly-created New Mexico Organized Retail Crime Association. In addition to tracking crime data, it uses artificial intelligence to predict when and where crimes will happen and list potential accomplices. It can even do so across state lines. However, leaders say they need the business community and law enforcement to step up and sign up statewide to make the program work.
“You’ve got to work with APD to tie into the real-time crime center. And that’s a two-way street and we’ve opened our end of the street with both money and IT services,” says Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller. APD says it has made 115 arrests for organized retail crime over the past year. These arrests turned up three handguns, eight stolen cars, and more than $26,000 dollars in stolen property.
APD Chief Median also brought up Kellie Shugart, a repeat burglar we reported on last week who racked up 70 burglary charges, as an example of how broken the criminal justice system is here. They hope this new taskforce will lead to more arrests and prosecutions. The attorney general says they will be asking the legislature to permanently fund units to be able to pursue these criminals throughout the state.
Businesses interested in joining the platform and the effort can register on the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce’s website.
This is a developing news story. KRQE News 13’s Natalie Wadas will have a full report on the new initiative on KRQE News 13 at 5:30 p.m.